Thursday, 26 August 2010

Raising Money to Fight Prostate Cancer

This year I am taking part in The Prostate Cancer Charity's Tour Ride, I am helping to fight the most common cancer in men in the UK. The money raised will help The Prostate Cancer Charity to provide men affected by prostate cancer with the best support possible. We depend on people like you - without your sponsorship, we wouldn't be able to invest in vital research and services to those that need them most. Thank you for your support.

If enough people sponsor me, maybe I'll say what happened to Steel's Roofing!!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

One Step Forward...

Well, I thought I had finally won a great triumph and actually got backup working on my PC. A KB fix was to have been issued with Microsoft’s monthly updates so everyone could benefit from my perseverance. After Saransh had been working remotely on the problem from New Delhi for a couple of hours, we got to the stage when backup clearly was copying files to my external drive but, sadly, the program failed right at the end because it couldn’t create zip files. Now, when I try, I’m back to the original error!

The Steel’s Roofing website is now being found by search engines (Google and Yahoo, anyway) if not by customers, as yet! You can also now find us in a number of trade directories, although I’m keeping to just those that provide free listings, for now. There are quite a few sites that charge for leads, and some of the propositions seem more than reasonable. However, in most cases, when you research a little further, you find many complaints, and claims that the vendors failed to live up to their promise – and that includes one of the biggest (and most expensive) – a household name.

We are continuing to get work through Lorne’s previous contacts, and I’m glad to know that we’re delivering good value, and invited back. Tomorrow (Monday) Lorne is starting on his third job for a local property owner.

I’m using Microsoft Office Live for Small Businesses for the website as well as file storage and document sharing, which are all pretty straight-forward to set-up.

We’ve got some signage for the van, now, ‘though I’m not all that happy with it and would like to get a proper paint job done. Lorne pointed-out to me that signage had to be removable because, if we are sub-contracting, the main contractor is unlikely to want us advertising ourselves at his expense. However, I reckon our approach should be to cover-up painted signage with blank magnetic decals, when necessary.

Friday, 22 January 2010

On Tenterhooks

I've decided to start blogging again. The new Richard's Blog will be more generalised and ad hoc than the old, but the trials and tribulations in setting-up a roofing company with my nephew, Lorne, will be a key theme.

We decided to set-up a limited company with me, initially, as the only shareholder! Registering the company, buying and insuring a van, and sorting-out a website, e-mail, FAX and 'phone were the easy bits. We've opened a business account, designed a logo and ordered business cards and signage for the van.

I've spent a helluva lot of time, this week, in setting-up (hopefully) appropriate keyword metatags for the website and registering with search engines and trade directories. (Google was first to find us.)The main result, so far, is that the calls from businesses wanting to sell us their marketing services have started to flood-in! Please click on our site to help raise its profile.

On Tuesday, Lorne and I attended a Business Links "Foundations for Success" workshop, which was very good, and we've booked three follow-up workshops over two weekends in February.

As a result of advice received at the workshop, I've made an appointment at a local Chartered Accountancy firm to discuss accounts, payroll and VAT registration, 'though I hope to deal with most of this myself once I've had some initial advice.

On Wednesday morning I was in town for a Socitm Commercial Board. It was the first for Karl Grundy, our new Head of Business Development. His is the last of the key roles we set-out to establish when we embarked-upon the turnaround of Socitm, and he soon demonstrated just why we need it by disabusing me of misconceptions about the environment for a proposed new service.

From there, I went for a reunion, and a long and boozy lunch at Smith's of Smithfield, with former colleagues from the North-East London Teleregion.

During the week, Lorne started on a flat-roofing job that he picked-up by word of mouth, and we are waiting to be able to start work on another job he quoted successfully for. A friend of mine also asked us to quote for reroofing his house after I e-mailed details of our venture to a number of my friends and contacts.

All-in-all, 'though, I'm feeling very nervous!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Helping my nephew...

Hello. Since I still have this site, in case anyone happens-by, I thought I'd just mention that my New Year's project for 2010 is to help my nephew, Lorne, set-up his roofing business!

If you live in SE England and your roof has been damaged by that strange white stuff that's been around lately, or for any other roofing works, try Steel's Roofing Limited.

In case you were wondering, I'm still with Socitm, and pleased that it continues to steadily build its resource and capabilities.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Friday, 31 July 2009

Signing off...

Today is my last working for Newham and so, for now at least, after well over 300 entries since starting at the beginning of 2007, it’s time to retire my Blog.

Many thanks for the many warm wishes and compliments that I’ve received, and thanks, also, to those who’ve shared their less than complimentary views in various ways (‘though I personally think that name-calling, febrile comments and anonymity from some, diminish their value!)

I was again reminded of the need to keep things in perspective, when I heard the sad news, this week, that Socitm’s Auditor, Christine Peacock, lost her fight with cancer last weekend, and I’m more than ever looking forward to redressing my own work-life balance for a bit.

So I guess that the value of my views may also be diminished, as I take the money and run, but I really do think that the current economic environment and the drive for Government efficiency and savings create the best opportunity that there will ever be for ICT to show how truly transformative it can be. My greatest disappointment, as Socitm President, was in the realisation that a few of my peers prefer to criticise and obstruct rather than get involved, find solutions and make a difference, but there are many who truly inspire and whose influence, now, is increasingly holding sway.

May you continue to live in interesting times!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Under A Cloud

Wednesday started with a self-inflicted headache after I attended, on Tuesday evening, 2e2’s annual reception hosted by Lord St. John of Bletso on the House of Lords Terrace. I’d decided to leave the car behind – bad move – and clearly I overdid the vino tinto!

Socitm’s Board meeting was held at Camden Town Hall. I’m glad to say we agreed a contract for non-Executive Directors, setting-out responsibilities and commitments, and a code of conduct.

We were rightly taken to task by the NAC for having requested it to change the date of its meeting to facilitate board representation, and then failed to ensure adequate representation. This clearly was unintended, and happened because of the shifting requirements of, and commitments to, Directors’ employers. In fact, our calendar has become rather a mess; I’ve struggled to keep-up. We’ve resolved therefore to reset a logically ordered calendar of meetings, and then stick with it – accepting that sometimes key individuals may need to miss the occasional meeting.

The decision to recruit of Heads of Membership Services and of Business Development was confirmed. These are two crucial appointments to continue to build capacity and expand our membership. The appointments will require some investment of reserves in the short to medium term, but ultimately should be self-financing. Finances are continuing to hold-up well, although we of course recognised the need to continue to monitor the position closely in the adverse economic environment that we’ll all continue to face for some time into the future.

Neil Harvey, from the NAC, did a really great job on reworking our draft Value Proposition, and this should now provide the basis for marketing/public relations collateral going forward. Frances Kettleday also provided us with seminal advice on how to make our briefings and reports work better for us - by including information about who we are and how to get in-touch, for example!

Conference bookings are down a little, at this stage. Edinburgh is traditionally our most popular venue, and we have a great programme – reinventing local public services – radical thinking, practical solutions – so, if you haven’t already, book-up quickly before the early bird discount runs-out!

I had to leave the Board Meeting before lunch to go across to a Public Sector Infrastructure Team Executive Board meeting at the DWP’s offices in the former Adelphi Hotel, in the Strand, where I was both representing Martin Ferguson, who’s on holiday in Turkey, and feeding-back from the Unified Communications sub-group meeting that I recently hosted at Newham Dockside.

At the UC meeting we had first defined what we mean by “Unified Communications” – fixed and mobile, covering voice, e-mail, messaging, and video, encompassing desktop and advanced business applications and, crucially, presence – and then proposed a vision statement… “This transformation agenda requires that services, processes and information are extended across the traditional ‘machinery of government’ silos, integrating service delivery around customer needs and cross-government policies, whilst also exploiting economies of scale and commonality in key areas”, backed-up by a list of key requirements.

The PSIT Executive Board will incorporate other key considerations, such as Information Assurance, and “secure telephony” (which is surely missing the point… unified communications obviously mean that all communications are now just bits and bytes, and must be managed accordingly). The vision, when ratified, will be published in due course but, in the meantime, my presentation is in the Socitm Futures GovX space, for those who have access, and the detailed paper is available in the Cabinet Office Government e-Room for those who have access to that.

The main business of the meeting was a presentation by Martin Bellamy, from the Cabinet Office, on “Government Data Centres, the G-Cloud and the Apps. Store”, followed by discussion and feedback from us all. This is mooted as a new programme responding to drivers such as the Operational Efficiency Programme, the Green Agenda and Digital Britain. It’s likely to become a major strand of the new Government IT Strategy (see John Suffolk’s new Blog) and to launch early next year.

I wonder whether this might provide an alternative to G-Cloud?

At the PSIT Executive Board we again alluded to the need for pan-Government security vision, supporting role-based access, ID management, authentication etc etc. I’ve always felt that identity should be federated so individuals don’t have to cope with different systems for different sectors and suppliers, and this story therefore caught my interest.

I read in Municipal Journal that “the Internet giant has launched a website in partnership with DirectGov and Socitm…