Category Archives: Business Practices

home office

As we’ve discussed on our blog, RII is a small business with an entirely virtual team.  Each team member works from a home office and most of our interactions happen from a distance, utilizing some type of technology to communicate (phone, e-mail, instant messages, video conferencing, etc.)   We have asked the question (like so many others) — Can a company and its employees be successful working from home? Recently a co-worker shared with me this article  by Dr. Kerry Schofield, co-founder and Chief Psychometrics Officer at Good Co., regarding how to create meaningful working relationships while working from home. The article uses the research of Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford, as a springboard for exploring meaningful work relationships in a virtual environment. Based on Robin Dunbar’s research, there is a theoretical limit to the size of the social network that we can maintain and an … Continue reading

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home office

The recent wave of pulling telecommuters back into an office to help save struggling companies has made me question – Is the location of a company’s employees a key component of success? As the HR manager of Research Integrations–a small business that began allowing employees to work from home offices  in order to provide flexibility and retain key employees and then eventually moved all employees to home offices–this seems like an important question to answer. At first the answer to this question seems complicated, but in the end, it may be simple. While the modalities of communication have changed with technology and telecommuting, the core messages and objectives of effective communication have not changed. Successful companies use communication effectively to accomplish these key objectives: Provide a shared vision Establish accountability Establish and maintain working relationships Maintain awareness of current challenges and successes Evaluate employee engagement Reward accomplishments For telecommuting these … Continue reading

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approved-stamp (3)

Can you look at your company’s costs and tell which costs are direct or indirect? If you can’t, understanding the difference between direct and indirect costs is a critical first step in your plan to get a compliant and approved cost accounting system for Government Contracting. As I mentioned in my previous blog post “What you should know about having an ‘approved’ accounting system for government contracting”,  a compliant government cost accounting system must: Track all costs for any individual government contract Accumulate actual direct costs by labor category and job/task Accumulate actual indirect costs and … We need to track all the costs for each individual government contract. To do this, I use a General Ledger and a Subsidiary Job Cost Ledger that I manually link to the General Ledger. I record all our company’s costs in the General Ledger and track all the costs for each individual contract … Continue reading

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organizing_information (1)

For many of our project tasks at RII, we oftentimes find ourselves organizing and summarizing what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information at first glance. However, experience has taught me that just a few simple steps to these types of tasks turns the seemingly insurmountable into something that is much more manageable and easy to accomplish. Some organizational writing tasks will easily lend themselves to an obvious form of organizing or the overall structure and discussion areas may be predetermined or required by your customer. However, for those tasks where you are determining the ideal organization based on the information and findings in the material itself, I find the following approach to be helpful: Know the purpose of the task Before diving in, be sure to understand the unique purpose and goal of your task. This includes an understanding of the research objective and especially the specific needs … Continue reading

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approved-stamp (3)

Do you wonder about what is necessary for a small business to have an accounting system suitable for government work? We were faced with that question when we needed to set up our accounting system to allow us to work on government contracts. I had a head start because I had been a Government auditor for 10 years, but I faced new challenges when I had to set up my own accounting system versus working with accounting systems that were already in place. I want to share what I have learned and give you some resources for learning more about accounting for government contracts. First of all, the basics…a compliant government cost accounting system must: • Track all costs for any individual government contract • Accumulate actual direct costs by labor category and job/task • Accumulate actual indirect costs and allocate these costs using provisional, budgeted, or actual burden rates • … Continue reading

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Virtual Meeting

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about weekend plans or the lunch menu while attending a business meeting? While this can happen during any meeting, virtual meetings are particularly susceptible to distracted and unfocused participants. When attending a meeting outside a physical office, participants can easily find themselves distracted in their casual environment. It’s easy to check out when you’re “watching’’ a meeting. When you’re leading a virtual meeting, beware of participants slipping into observer mode. You want to minimize this. It’s also important to realize that the sense of accountability changes when participants are not face-to-face. Even well intended, well-disciplined meeting members can find it difficult to maintain focus when attending a virtual meeting. While this post is about minimizing distraction, it’s very important that you, the meeting organizer, have a high level of employee/participant trust. This sets the stage. Trust that the participants are paying attention. There will be small … Continue reading

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Virtual Meeting

Creating effective meetings that produce actionable results relies on participants who are engaged in the meeting, the process, and the outcome. Our team at Research Integrations has been operating in a virtual environment for quite some time now. We found that in virtual meetings, using effective engagement techniques is crucial because meeting members may be more easily distracted or disinterested. A virtual environment is tricky because it doesn’t hold us accountable to another person in the same way a person-to-person meeting does. Utilizing the techniques I’ve outlined below will hopefully assist in leading your meeting members to have ownership of the action plan you’re developing together. Once this occurs, group members are more likely to take on responsibilities and even work on them outside of meeting time. Don’t forget the importance of choosing a virtual meeting tool that accommodates your needs. My previous post may be of assistance to you … Continue reading

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archived-files

Have you been notified that the Defense Contract Audit Agency auditor or other contract auditor will be knocking on your door one of these days, asking some hard questions about your government contract and wanting to see your records? If you follow some simple guidelines, you can feel confident that you will have the records that the auditor will request. As a former Defense Contract Audit Agency auditor, I sat on the other side of the table asking hard questions and asking for the records to back up the contractor’s answers. DCAA and auditors for other contracting agencies perform all needed contract audits through evaluation of contractor records. Often I was not asking for records readily on hand for this year, but for records from past years. Now I sit across from the auditor who is asking those questions and wanting our records. But how long must a company keep … Continue reading

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Virtual Meeting

Meetings in a virtual environment can be challenging and even intimidating. Achieving a successful action plan during a meeting depends on participant interaction.  For the past several years, as Research Integrations has become a completely distributed team with home offices across the nation, all of our meetings have moved from a physical environment to a virtual environment. This has posed some challenges and opportunities for us. Effective meetings in a virtual environment are tricky because many of us are not used to interacting with people through this medium, and we have a distrust of using and relying on technology for communication.   However, we have found that the right tools and a few good techniques have helped us create effective meetings, which allow us to continue to work as a team. 6 things to consider when choosing a virtual meeting tool: The tool should be trustworthy and reliable When the tool is trustworthy and reliable, participants feel … Continue reading

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Sign_for_dogs_and_their_guardians

Whether you are creating standard operating procedures for your high-powered business, developing instructions for use for a new medical device, or writing directions for your elderly neighbor on how to check e-mail, it is critical to design your instructions in a manner that gets the expected results. Here are a few key instructions…for writing instructions. Know where you are going Before getting into the step-by-step details be clear about the end objective for your instructions so that the person following the instructions is clear from the start about where they are heading. Include a clear heading, title, or lead-in objective statement to make sure the person following your instructions has the end in mind every step of the way. Talk the Talk It is critical to know your audience! Make sure to use language that is understandable to the user of your instructions – see the example provided in the … Continue reading

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