Monthly Archives: May 2017

Unethical Behavior In Business

The sad truth is there are people who part take in unethical behavior within the workplace. Unethical behavior includes a variety of activities. Some unethical business behavior may include lying and changing the number of hours they have worked, making a long distance phone call on the business phones, and copying business software so they can use it at home. There can be more serious unethical behavior such as altering business records. There are also behaviors which are deemed as unethical and behavior that is illegal but ultimately is up to the business to decide if the behavior is illegal or not.

When a employee discovers someone that is being unethical, it can sometimes test what their own ethical values are. Sometimes behavior that is unethical and not illegal can fall under a grey area such as, what is right or wrong and can make it difficult to know what to do when they encounter it. However, people will also have different opinions on what is ethical and what isn’t. An example could be saying that it okay to say a white lie, and they make it okay because they can justify it their mind.

The employees own sense of what is right or wrong, comes into play when they witness someone else doing something that isn’t part of the companies standards. The employee will need to address how they are feeling about the activity and will they inform on the activity or do they turn a blind eye.

When the employee witness the employee doing something unethical a decision is made in what to do about it and so they are presented with a number of difficult options. Should they go and talk to the person or do they go and speak to the supervisor.

There are techniques that are put in place to make it easier to help with the decision and manage unethical behaviors. The company needs to create a policy for the company, that is signed by each employee so, they are aware on what to do. This will minimize the awakened feeling of what to do when seeing someone act unethically.

The second part is to show a outline of what will be expected of the person when they discover someone doing something unethical. It should also have the person that needs to be contacted and what the process is involved in doing so. Having a clear set instructions, will have a more proactive way on reporting on someone who is doing something unethical. So, by having this it can deal with this issue easily and quickly before it becomes a big issue.

The consequences should be clearly stated of what the unethical behavior is. That way, the person who witness the activity is aware of what to do which lessens the risk of someone not reporting something that is unethical.

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Tom Martino Damages Oregon Business

In November 2004, talk radio host Tom Martino picked up the phone on his consumer-advice show. Unhappy Washington state resident Melissa Feroglia was calling to complain about a jet ski she had purchased in Boring, Oregon at John and Susan Gardner’s Mount Hood Polaris. Unfortunately for the Gardners, Martino’s show was nationally syndicated.

Feroglia told Martino that her jet ski had broken down again and again. According to Feroglia, John Gardner had first promised to refund her money, but had then said that her ski jet was fixed and there would be no refund. Feroglia concluded her woes by telling Martino that at that point the weather was too cold. She would have to wait until spring to try out her jet ski.

Martino, in the flip and annoying way of many talk show hosts who could not be bothered with the facts, then told Feroglia that Gardner was lying to her. Martino and Martino’s producer continued the saga by telling us of a cycle we are all far too familiar with: Calling the shop, being told to contact the manufacturer, contacting the manufacturer, and being told to call the shop again. We don’t know if their tale was true or not.

We do know that Martino said, “Polaris sucks.” The situation further spiraled out of control as Martino encouraged his listeners to contact Mount Hood Polaris and the manufacturer and tell them that they would never again buy any Polaris products.

John and Susan Gardner sued after their phone lines were flooded and they were threatened. The Gardner’s lawsuit stated that people driving by the store for several weeks shouted insults and the store lost approximately $600,000 in business. A judge dismissed their suit and in April a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal. According to the federal appeals court, this was basically not slander because reasonable talk show listeners do not expect facts on talk shows like Martino’s, just opinions. Without facts, there cannot be slander.

In the eyes of the law, any damage to the Gardners’ business and reputation was due to Martino’s opinion, not to any false fact or facts. Given that this damage could not have been caused by reasonable talk show listeners, the Gardners have no recourse. No law protects businesses from talk show hosts who urge unreasonable talk show listeners to damage the business.

Tom Martino has more critics than just the Gardners. His critics are concerned by the “Troubleshooter Referral List,” a list of businesses that Martino endorses. A business can join Martino’s list by paying a $3,000 fee and agreeing to a code of ethics. This code includes agreeing to let Martino decide disputes with consumers and follow his decisions. Martino also personally endorses business products and services on the air for payment. Critics question Tom Martino’s being a creditable consumer advocate due to the very substantial fees he earns from his endorsements.

Martino apparently enjoys both sides of the street. He appears to profit as an entertainer masquerading as a consumer advocate. He also appears to profit as a businessperson selling endorsements that appear to make him a pseudo consumer advocate. Unfortunately, his audience does not appear to notice that he is a pseudo consumer advocate. He is not the real thing.

Perhaps some day we will have a law that holds talk radio hosts liable for inflaming audiences that can reasonably be expected to cause damage. Until then, businesses savaged by Tom Martino will continue to occur damages, both justified and unjustified. In the final analysis, we have no idea if the Gardners were fine upstanding business people or not. We don’t know anything about their business practices. We can definitely state that it would have required some very bad business practices for $600,000.00 in damages to have been a fair penalty. We can conclude two things from this: We need laws to handle situations like this and we need to watch out for Tom Martino and other talk show hosts like him.

The Evolution Of Business Analysts

Software application development has only been around since the late 1970s. Compared to other industries and professions the software industry is still very young. Ever since organizations began to use computers to support their business tasks, the people who create and maintain those “systems” have become more and more sophisticated and specialized. This specialization is necessary because as computer systems become more and more complex, no one person can know how to do everything.

One of the “specialties” to arise is the Business Analyst. A Business Analyst is a person who acts as a liaison between business people who have a business problem and technology people who know how to create solutions. Although some organizations have used this title in non-IT areas of the business, it is an appropriate description for the role that functions as the bridge between people in business and IT. The use of the word “Business” is a constant reminder that any application software developed by an organization should further improve its business operations, either by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or increasing service level to the customers.

History of the Business Analyst Role

In the 1980s when the software development life cycle was well accepted as a necessary step, people doing this work typically came from a technical background and were working in the IT organization. They understood the software development process and often had programming experience. They used textual requirements along with ANSI flowcharts, dataflow diagrams, database diagrams, and prototypes. The biggest complaint about software development was the length of time required to develop a system that didn’t always meet the business needs. Business people had become accustomed to sophisticated software and wanted it better and faster.

In response to the demand for speed, a class of development tools referred to as CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) were invented. These tools were designed to capture requirements and use them to manage a software development project from beginning to end. They required a strict adherence to a methodology, involved a long learning curve, and often alienated the business community from the development process due to the unfamiliar symbols used in the diagrams.

As IT teams struggled to learn to use CASE tools, PCs (personal computers) began to appear in large numbers on desktops around the organization. Suddenly anyone could be a computer programmer, designer and user. IT teams were still perfecting their management of a central mainframe computer and then suddenly had hundreds of independent computers to manage. Client-server technologies emerged as an advanced alternative to the traditional “green screen,” keyboard-based software.

The impact on the software development process was devastating. Methodologies and classic approaches to development had to be revised to support the new distributed systems technology and the increased sophistication of the computer user prompted the number of software requests to skyrocket.

Many business areas got tired of waiting for a large, slow moving IT department to rollout yet another cumbersome application. They began learning to do things for themselves, or hiring consultants, often called Business Analysts, who would report directly to them, to help with automation needs. This caused even more problems for IT which was suddenly asked to support software that they had not written or approved. Small independent databases were created everywhere with inconsistent, and often, unprotected data. During this time, the internal Business Analyst role was minimized and as a result many systems did not solve the right business problem causing an increase in maintenance expenses and rework.

New methodologies and approaches were developed to respond to the changes, RAD (rapid application development), JAD (joint application development), and OO (object oriented) tools and methods were developed.

As we began the new millennium, the Internet emerged as the new technology and IT was again faced with a tremendous change. Once again, more sophisticated users, anxious to take advantage of new technology, often looked outside of their own organizations for the automation they craved. The business side of the organization started driving the technology as never before and in a large percentage of organizations began staffing the Business Analyst role from within the operational units instead of from IT. We now have Marketing Directors, Accountants, Attorneys, and Payroll Clerks performing the role of the Business Analyst.

In addition, the quality movement that had started in the 70s with TQM, came into focus again as companies looked for ways to lower their cost of missed requirements as they expanded globally. The ISO (International Standards Organization) set quality standards that must be adhered to when doing international business. Carnegie Mellon created a software development quality standard CMM (Capability Maturity Model). Additionally, Six Sigma provided a disciplined, data-driven quality approach to process improvement aimed at the near elimination of defects from every product, process, and transaction. Each of these quality efforts required more facts and rigor during requirements gathering and analysis which highlighted the need for more skilled Business Analysts familiar with the business, IT, and quality best practices.

Future of the Business Analyst Role

Today we see Business Analysts coming from both the IT and business areas. In the best situations, the Business Analyst today has a combination of IT and business skills. Each organization has unique titles for these individuals and the structure of Business Analyst groups is as varied as the companies themselves. However, there is a core set of tasks that most Business Analysts are doing regardless of their background or their industry.

The Business Analyst role becomes more critical as project teams become more geographically dispersed.
Outsourcing and globalization of large corporations have been the driving factors for much of this change recently. When the IT development role no longer resides inside our organizations, it becomes necessary to accurately and completely define the requirements in more detail than ever before. A consistent structured approach, while nice to have in the past, is required to be successful in the new environment. Most organizations will maintain the Business Analyst role as an “inhouse” function. As a result, more IT staff are being trained as Business Analysts.

The Business Analyst role will continue to shift its focus from “Software” to “Business System.”
Most Business Analysts today are focused on software development and maintenance, but the skills of the Business Analyst can be utilized on a larger scale. An excellent Business Analyst can study a business area and make recommendations about procedural changes, personnel changes, and policy changes in addition to recommending software. The Business Analyst can help improve the business system not just the business software.

The Business Analyst role will continue to evolve as business dictates.
Future productivity increases will be achieved through re-usability of requirements. Requirements Management will become another key skill in the expanding role of the Business Analyst as organizations mature in their understanding of this critical expertise. The Business Analyst is often described as an “Agent of Change.” Having a detailed understanding of the organization’s key initiatives, a Business Analyst can lead the way to influence people to adapt to major changes that benefit the organization and its business goals. The role of a Business Analyst is an exciting and secure career choice as U.S. companies continue to drive the global economy.

Training for the Business Analyst

The skill set needed for a successful Business Analyst is diverse and can range from communication skills to data modeling. A Business Analyst’s educational and professional background may vary as well–some possess an IT background while others come from the business stakeholder area.

With backgrounds as diverse and broad as these it is difficult for a Business Analyst to possess all the skills necessary to perform successful business analysis. Companies are finding that individuals with a strong business analysis background are difficult to locate in the marketplace and are choosing to train their employees to become Business Analysts in consistent structured approaches. First, organizations seeking formal business analysis training should examine vendors who are considered “experts” on the field with a strong focus on business analysis approaches and methodologies. Second, you will want to examine the quality of the training vendor’s materials. This may be done by researching who wrote a vendor’s materials and how often they are updated to stay abreast of industry best practices. Third, matching the real-world experience of instructors to the needs and experience level of your organization is critical to successful training. Business analysis is an emerging profession and it is critical that the instructors that you choose have been practicing Business Analysts.

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