Myths Of Product Development

Sep 22, 2017 by

Most product-development managers with http://prakat.com are always struggling to bring in projects on time and on budget. They never have enough resources to get the job done, and their bosses demand predictable schedules and deliverables. So the managers push their teams to be more parsimonious, to write more-detailed plans, and to minimize schedule variations and waste. But that approach, which may work well in turning around underperforming factories, can actually hurt product-development efforts. 

Although many companies treat product development as if it were similar to manufacturing, the two are profoundly different. In the world of manufacturing physical objects, tasks are repetitive, activities are reasonably predictable, and the items being created can be in only one place at a time. In product development many tasks are unique, project requirements constantly change, and the output—thanks, in part, to the widespread use of advanced computer-aided design and simulation and the incorporation of software in physical products—is information, which can reside in multiple places at the same time.

The failure to appreciate those critical differences has given rise to several fallacies that undermine the planning, execution, and evaluation of product development projects. Together, we have spent more than 50 years studying and advising companies on product-development efforts, and we have encountered these misconceptions—as well as others that arise for different reasons—in a wide range of industries, including semiconductors, autos, consumer electronics, medical devices, software, and financial services. In this article we’ll expose them and offer ways to overcome the problems they create.

Fallacy 1: High utilization of resources will improve performance.

In both our research and our consulting work, we’ve seen that the vast majority of companies strive to fully employ their product-development resources. (One of us, Donald, through surveys conducted in executive courses at the California Institute of Technology, has found that the average product-development manager keeps capacity utilization above 98%.) The logic seems obvious: Projects take longer when people are not working 100% of the time—and therefore, a busy development organization will be faster and more efficient than one that is not as good at utilizing its people.

But in practice that logic doesn’t hold up. We have seen that projects’ speed, efficiency, and output quality inevitably decrease when managers completely fill the plates of their product-development employees—no matter how skilled those managers may be. High utilization has serious negative side effects, which managers underestimate for three reasons:

They don’t take into full account the intrinsic variability of development work.

Many aspects of product development are unpredictable: when projects will arrive, what individual tasks they’ll require, and how long it will take workers who’ve never tackled such tasks before to do them. Companies, however, are most familiar with repetitive processes like manufacturing and transaction processing, where the work doesn’t change much and surprises are few and far between. Such processes behave in an orderly manner as the utilization of resources increases. Add 5% more work, and it will take 5% more time to complete.

Processes with high variability behave very differently. As utilization

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Office Printer Tips You Need The Most

Sep 21, 2017 by

Sharing a printer among as many employees as possible makes practical and financial sense. To do this, the printer must be connected to your office network, which allows users to print to a single machine from their respective desktops, laptops, mobile devices and, sometimes, remotely. There are two ways to go about connecting a laser printer to your office network: buy a printer with http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk that has built-in networking capabilities or attach a printer to a dedicated print server.

Printers with built-in capabilities are simpler to connect but will likely cost more. Either way, you can either hire an outside vendor to do the setup (if it is not included in the purchase or lease price), or rely on your internal IT staff (if you have one). Many offices need more than one printer. Only so many employees can rely on the same printer without running into logjams, so businesses often choose to buy a laser printer for each department, group or team. Separate printers can reside on the same network, allowing employees to switch back and forth among them. This is particularly helpful if employees need to switch from a monochrome machine to a color machine, for example. Or, you can use subnetworks that allow certain users access to only certain printers. These are sometimes used to limit or restrict access to color printers because their operating costs are so much higher.

 

Ah, the magic question: How much will I have to spend? This is a difficult question to answer without knowing the specific needs of your business, but we’ll give you a general idea of what to expect. You can purchase a basic home printer for less than $100 these days, but don’t expect business printer prices to be comparable. Business-quality printers are far more advanced and sophisticated, and the price reflects that. Basic inkjet printers designed for very small businesses start in the $150 to $300 range, but these are not robust enough for most offices. Sure, they’re an option if you’re on a very limited budget, but also factor in the total cost of ownership, which includes ink replacement.

 

At a certain level of printing volume, the cost of an inexpensive inkjet plus the cost of ink exceeds buying a more expensive laser printer that has low ongoing costs. The most basic color laser printers start at $300, but models that are suitable for small to mid-size offices usually cost $750 to $3,000. High-end laser printers with networking capabilities often cost $5,000 to $10,000 or more.

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What You Need To Know About Multifunction Printers

Sep 21, 2017 by

Why take two or even four devices into your office when one can do the job just as well? The modern multifunction or all-in-one printer does exactly what it says on the tin, more than one job and usually a lot better and faster than older standalone models can manage.

For a small business – or larger company used in specific departments – choosing the right model is essential with http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk. The right multifunction printer can be an office powerhouse cranking out office documents and scanned forms by the tens without breaking into a sweat. Choosing the wrong model though can cause frustrating delays, poor quality and costly downtime.

Making the right choice depends on selecting models with a high-enough work rate for a business environment, low-enough running costs to meet budgets, the connectivity to seamlessly fit into your IT infrastructure and of course the right range of features to do the jobs you need. http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk  can help you here. The key features to look for when making buying decisions are outlined below:

Connectivity

For home use printers connect via a USB port. It’s simple and the device can even be shared over a network via the PC. The office choice is a network printer. These models provide the advantage of tying directly into your existing office network and being made available to everyone. Networking options will be either wired Ethernet or a wireless connection. Depending on your office infrastructure one, the other or both may be more suited.

PC-free use

It should also be pointed out that many multifunction printers provide PC-less features. So many will print, copy and fax without the need for a computer at all. This offers the advantage of lower overheads, reduced training and easier installation in the right circumstances.

Printing

The printer element is the main power behind a multifunction device. It’s important to choose the right type to meet business needs, in terms of duty cycle, capacity, speed, quality, colour output and costs. ● Duty cycle is the upper number of prints a device is designed to handle per month. A basic no-frills consumer-grade printer will handle fewer than 2,000 per month. A low-end business printer will be around 10,000 prints per month and this figure moves upwards with price. The model you choose should have a duty cycle far higher than your expected monthly print demand.

  • Capacity is based on the cartridge or toner a device uses, it’s important that these can last long enough to be economical and deliver enough pages to be useful.
  • Speed – It’s no good getting a device just to have employees stood around waiting for jobs to finish. Speed is measure in Prints Per Minute, usually based on an industry standard coverage amount of five per cent per page.
  • Quality of documents – Almost all new devices should produce satisfactory office documents for day to day use. If presentations are required something higher-end may be required in terms of colour in conjunction with a more expensive paper stock.
  • Colour – You’ll need to decide if you want black and white, basic document colour or photo-quality output. As each requires an increasing amount of money for a suitable office device.
  • Costs – build up from a combination of the amount of usage and price per print. Tied to this is the paper stock used and the type of cartridge or toner chosen.
  • Input/Output trays refer to the paper trays used to store blank and printed pages. If you’re expecting a high turnover then ensuring a unit offers multiple 250 or better 500 page input trays is ideal. As one empties the unit will automatically switch to using the full one.

Scanner

Dedicated scanners are still available and for film, slide or restoration jobs could still be preferable. However even multifunction printers offer slide and negative film scans, alongside standard photo and document scanning. Basic all-in-one devices should provide colour 600 dpi resolution, which is the minimum required for office work. More important is the time required to complete an A4 scan.

 

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How To Choose A Colour Photocopier

Sep 21, 2017 by

Most companies only need black and white photocopiers from http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk, in general for internal use. In some cases, however, more elaborate machines which can also process colour documents are necessary. Printing and copying flyers, brochures and marketing material call for the use of colour copiers. These units are usually more expensive, so choosing the right technology and finding the best price are essential.

Features and functionalities. Modern photocopiers from http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk are most of the time multi-function printers (MFPs) which can scan and print documents as well as copy them. Two technologies exist: inkjet or laser. Laser units are at the higher-end of the price range, but the toner they use is considerably cheaper than ink cartridges. Depending on the size of your business or the volume and quality of work that needs to be done, the choice of your colour copier is crucial.

Standalone or desktop?

Desktop copiers are perfect for home users, or small offices. They fit on any desk or counter, can scan, print and copy in black and white or colour, and are simple to operate from a computer. They’re also cheap, and toner or ink refills are affordable. However, ink-jet cartridges tend to run out quickly, some colours more than others. They’re appropriate for small volumes of average-quality colour prints. Standalone MFPs are heavier and more cumbersome, and of course more expensive. They mostly use laser technology. They’re suitable for larger companies processing important volumes of documents, and some high-end machines are totally appropriate for copy professionals thanks to their high resolution and elaborate features.

 

Speed and volume

While entry-level MFPs are able to process between 20 and 30 pages per minute, a mid-range freestanding unit will have a 40-50 page-per-minute output, which is enough for most uses. Professional photocopiers can process 100 pages per minute, but they cost a lot and must be reserved for specific companies. In addition to speed, the paper tray volume is another important point. As a matter of fact, frequent paper refills will take time and impair your staff’s workflow. Connecting a photocopier to the company’s network generally increases volume by 20-30%, so it’s better to overestimate your needs than the contrary.

Finishing tools

If you intend to use your colour copier for such jobs as printing brochures or promotional material, finishing tools such as staplers or document folders might be necessary. Likewise, built-in fax machines and internet connectivity are appreciated features. All these options obviously have an impact on the overall cost, as they’re rarely available on entry-level models.

Finding your colour copier at the right price

You really need to pinpoint your needs before purchasing a colour copier. If it’s too small and slow, it will not fulfil its role properly. On the contrary, if it’s too complicated or equipped with unnecessary features, staff may need a long and costly training period, which is a waste of time and money. However, other options than outright purchase exist, reducing prices and improving services.

Renting and leasing

By paying for your copier in monthly or quarterly instalments, the financial impact will be greatly reduced. For example, a £1,000 MFP paid for through a 5-year lease purchase contract will only cost you around £20 per month, and you will own it when the contract expires. Renting is perfect for occasional uses. In general, service and maintenance are included in rental or lease fees.

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Money-Saving For Your Printer

Sep 21, 2017 by

The dream of the paperless office is for many businesses, just that, a dream. Most companies simply can’t sustain an entirely paper free environment, no matter how hard they try. Records need to be kept, contracts need to be signed, hard copies are needed for meetings and training, publicity material needs to be mailed and communication has to be prioritised. So it is vitally important that we use our business printers from http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk and photocopiers responsibly in order to minimise waste, along with recycling and other green initiatives.

But saving paper does far more than improving your business’s green credentials. Most importantly it can save your office a lot of money. Considering how much you may have invested in business printing with http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk, with buying printers and photocopiers, paying service fees and ordering printer accessories and consumables, it makes sense to minimise running costs as well. The golden rule is, if you cut waste, you cut costs.

Breaking bad habits

When it comes to printing solutions, many of us fall into bad habits, which can be hard to break. But studies show that the more proactive the management team is at encouraging economical printing, the greater the long term success will be. All of these money saving tips are easy to achieve and require no initial outlay. Whilst individually the savings may be small, over time and when combined the benefits will really be felt:

  • The simplest way to save money on your business printing is to reduced usage, so raise awareness and make sure that electronic communication is being fully utilised.
  • Reuse paper where possible for internal documents. If your printer has multiple trays, designate one for paper which has already been used on one side.
  • Use the print preview function to check for any mistakes before printing.
  • Set your default printer mode to duplex printing, so that you automatically print on both sides. You can also print more than one page on each side of a document.
  • Utilise the digital document storage facilities. The majority of printers and photocopiers will have the facility to email documents or save them to a USB stick.
  • Most printers will have a hibernation or standby mode which uses less electricity. Make sure that this is enabled. Today’s sophisticated printer and photocopier models will take very little time to warm up again.
  • Always switch off printing devices at the end of the working day.
  • Place a cap on how many pages can be printed or copied on each machine in one batch.
  • Print consumables such as ink can be professionally refilled far more cheaply than purchasing a brand new one. If not, many suppliers reward toner and ink recycling with discount vouchers.
  • If you are looking to purchase a new, more energy efficient machine, consider buying cheaper refurbished printers and photocopiers or renting from a reputable supplier. Always search forEnergy Star approved equipment, guaranteed to have the highest efficiency ratings.

There are lots of initiatives and agencies out there who are able to help. Speak to your local council about reducing waste or look for more money and paper saving tips at the WWF. Always go with a company like http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk for your printing needs.

 

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Choosing Whether TO Rent Or Buy Your Printer

Sep 21, 2017 by

One of the most important assets for any business is its employees. Highly skilled and experienced employees have the ability to take a mediocre business and turn it into a superstar in a very short time. However, even the best employees can’t amount to much without the right tools. One of the tools that good employees need to excel in their given assignments is a high quality printer.

However, it has to be the right kind of printer from http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk. Entry level, basic printers are not good enough to handle the workload and quality requirements of an ambitious business. However, as is the case with most expensive office equipment, the modern printer or copier can be acquired in two ways i.e. lease and direct purchase. It is because of this that most businesses have to face the dilemma of leasing a printer vs. buying a printer sooner or later in their growth trajectory.

Let’s approach this question in a structured and step by step basis. The printer is an important piece of machine irrespective of which industry the business works in.

The printer or copier has the capability of making the office more efficient because printing is a much faster process than typing or even visiting the local store.

That establishes the fact that the printer is important. Now, let’s consider the financial side of things.

A successful business would not settle for an entry level printer because it will not provide the same kind of features and versatility that more advanced models will offer. Unfortunately, the more advanced printer models cost a good deal of money.

This cost vs. functionality dilemma is the real cause behind businesses thinking twice before deciding on leasing a printer or buying a printer. Since we are here to resolve this dilemma for you, here are pros and cons of both leasing a printer and buying a printer.

The problem with any kind of technology is that it becomes obsolete very quickly. Computers, tablets, smartphones, and printers all have a very short lifespan not in terms of durability but instead in terms of technological relevance.

Therefore, if you buy a printer tomorrow, then two years down the line, you may find yourself stuck with out of date technology. This problem, however, won’t exist in the case of leasing a printer. When you lease a printer, you sign a lease for a certain period of time. Once that lease expires, you can simply not renew the lease and instead lease a new printer.

Leasing a printer also brings expensive technology within your business’s reach. For instance, small to medium scale businesses often have to think twice before buying an expensive piece of equipment because the required investment is so high. Such businesses can simply choose to lease that expensive printer because monthly payments are smaller and more manageable than huge acquisition costs.

Another benefit of leasing a printer is that it usually doesn’t require any kind of down payment. Moreover, leasing a printer also means that your business will know precisely how much money it will be required to pay every month. This absence of down payments and predictability of monthly payments make leasing a printer one of the most financially stable elements for a business to rely on.

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Purchasing Or Leasing Hardware

Sep 21, 2017 by

When you decide its time to get new computer hardware with http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk, you have a choice between buying outright, hire purchase or leasing. The route you follow will depend on your business needs, your budget and the level of advice and support you need. When choosing hardware, make sure that any new or replacement components are compatible with your existing computer equipment. Look carefully at the overall costs, including if it might be cheaper to install a new system rather than upgrade existing components.

Buying computer hardware outright

Advantages of buying equipment outright with http://blackbox-solutions.co.uk include:

  • For small businesses, being able to deduct a percentage of the value of their IT investments from their taxable income. This includes hardware, software and mobile phones. Read more aboutcapital allowances.
  • Not being tied into medium or long-term agreements which may be difficult to end if your needs or circumstances change.

Disadvantages of buying outright include having to:

  • Pay the full cost up front. This may cause cashflow pressures as you can’t easily spread the cost to coincide with money coming into the business.
  • Replace equipment regularly. Computer equipment depreciates quite quickly and may be obsolete after a few years, requiring a further investment.

Advantages of hire purchase or leasing of IT equipment include:

  • Financial flexibility – you can spread the cost of your equipment over a period of time so its impact on your cashflow is less severe.
  • Tax benefits – as with purchasing, leasing can also offer tax benefits. Businesses can usually deduct the full cost of lease rentals from taxable income. Consult your accountant for specialist advice in this area. Find out how tochoose and work with an accountant.
  • An integrated maintenance contract and replacement equipment (in the event of total failure), often as part of the deal.
  • The possibility of a periodic upgrade or replacement with new equipment as part of the package, keeping your office technology up to date.

Disadvantages of hire purchase or leasing include the following:

  • The equipment’s overall cost may be greater than if you’d purchased it outright.
  • There can also be more administration involved.
  • When leasing, your business doesn’t actually own the equipment. It remains the property of the supplier.
  • When using hire purchase, your business will own the equipment at the end of the contract, by which time it may be obsolete.

When deciding if you should buy or lease your hardware equipment, it’s important to also consider your needs around hardware installation, maintenance and support.

 

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