The outsourcing of IT, engineering and business services has benefitted the manufacturing industry profoundly over the past few decades. Outsourcers have successfully taken out costs and helped customers drive efficiencies for their own customers. In recent years, though, the model has been changing. Competition, combined with the recent global financial crisis, has increased the pressure on outsourcers not only to continue to deliver price advantages but to generate greater value in a wide variety of areas.

From the G-7, to the BRIC, to the N-11, the search is ongoing for markets that promise growth and new opportunities for businesses around the globe. To that end, Goldman Sachs and others have conducted extensive analysis of market conditions in countries far off the traditional radar screen. However, what companies need to pay close attention to when selecting a new target market isn’t just one country's market performance over another. Rather, the right target market has everything to do with aligning your company's unique product/services, goals, vision and global strategy with the most suitable country and then region.

There are many factors that contribute to a company’s success, but one of the most important is the often overlooked role of retention of top performers. While meeting or exceeding company goals might be seen as a sign of loyalty and commitment to the company, appearances can be deceiving. High-achievers are producing great results not because they are committed to the company but because it is their nature. They thrive on doing excellent work.

For the manufacturing work force, selecting and requiring the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the most important elements of assuring a safe and healthful work environment. What PPE to wear, who pays for it and how to determine which is the right PPE to protect against a known hazard in the workplace are all critically important issues, both from the perspective of an employee’s personal safety and an employer’s freedom from allegations of non-compliance. Eliminating the guesswork and ensuring compliance in this area just became a bit easier, as on Feb. 15, 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a revised directive that provides enforcement guidance on determining whether employers have complied with OSHA’s PPE standards. The Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry, CPL 02-01-050, is the latest word from OSHA on PPE, and is a must read for employers and employees alike.

Companies can replace or recover most assets of the organization, but in many cases, “most” is not good enough. The mass am­ount of data generated over the years is far too valuable and irreplaceable for companies not to have intact. Accordingly, data re­covery has evolved from an internal necessity to a strategic and sus­tainable competitive advantage.

With every passing year, the amount and variety of information available to make business decisions continues its exponential growth. As a result, business leaders have an opportunity to exploit the possibilities inherent in this rich, but complex, stream of information. Alternatively, they can continue with the status quo, using only their good business sense and intuition and thereby risk being left in the dust by competitors. Top-tier companies have learned to harness the available data with powerful decision support tools to make fast, robust trade-offs across many competing priorities and business constraints.

Reverse-engineering isn’t about crashed UFOs in Roswell, New Mexico – it’s a solid manufacturing practice that simply means to begin with the end-result in mind and work backwards from there. When companies seek to lower their materials costs (and who isn't?), they need to begin with the end-result – a less expensive product – and then determine where they can save time and money along the way. Companies quickly discover there are only five ways to make this goal a reality, and they spell an easy-to-remember acronym: YIELD.

Whether you agonized before joining the family business or leaving a secure job to start your own company, deciding whether to sell your business is likely one of the biggest decisions you will make.  The decision is a mix of numbers and emotion, hopes and economics, business and family. It is also made in the face of uncertainty. No one can predict what their competitors will do or whether the economy will be up or down at a particular point in time. No one can say for certain how their and their loved ones’ health will be in the future. Whether to sell can be a difficult decision, but knowing what questions to ask yourself can make the decision a little easier.

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