Translation Services: A Study in Quality Management

One service our team is proud to offer to the federal government is translation of foreign documents for American readers, and vice versa. We live in a small world (that’s getting smaller), and our government can’t afford to let language barriers hinder its relationships with the international community.

The thing about translations is they need to be perfect. “Lost in translation” isn’t just an expression– it’s a very real, literal thing that can happen with even the slightest error in interpretation. So how do you prevent it from occurring? Simple: treat a translation order as you would any other job and run it through the full gamut of quality control. The process we go through with every translation is exemplary of the kind of quality control procedure you should have in place for any kind of project.

1) Choose the right person or team for the job. In the case of translation, this means not only selecting a native speaker of the language, but one well-versed in the subject matter of the documents to be translated.

2) Bring other experts in for review. For translations, at least one if not two speakers of both languages besides the original translator should complete a thorough review of the documents to ensure there are no errors.

3) Before returning to the client, the final product should be reviewed by a dedicated Quality Assurance person and the Project Director. The more eyes, the better!

That’s how we work translations– but the process applies no matter what your project is. Don’t sacrifice quality for a quick and easy job!

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The Neurological Effects After Chemical Nerve Agents Exposure Workshop

Pic for blog

It’s been quite the week for us here at Strategic Results! Last Wednesday and Thursday, we were lucky to support the Neurological Effects After Chemical Nerve Agents Exposure Workshop for NIH CounterACT in Bethesda, MD. The program focused on exploring the availability and validity of studies on the effects of chemical nerve agents on both human and animal subjects. We planned logistics, designed the program booklet, and provided support onsite for the event.

Needless to say, it’s programs like these that our meeting planners enjoy the most. We witnessed some truly insightful discussions involving leading neuroscientists and physicians from NIH, FDA, DHS, and top universities across the country. Dr. Tetsu Okumura traveled from Japan to share his experiences treating sarin gas victims of the Tokyo Subway Incident, and Dr. Buckley made his way all the way from Australia to talk about pesticide poisoning, which in many ways models the effects of nerve agents at a smaller scale but is still a serious threat in its own right. Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Emergency Response, DHHS, introduced the second day’s program.

This was no regular, lecture-based conference. Participants actually participated, both by filling out worksheets provided by the organizers, and by answering questions with Audience Response Devices. If all goes as planned, white papers will be developed from the proceedings to guide future research.

Check out our pictures from the workshop here!

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Instructional Design: Reaching Your Goals Through the ADDIE Model

We’ve talked about knowledge transfer– now let’s talk about instructional design. You can think of instructional design as a means to achieve knowledge transfer; it refers to the development of learning experiences and environments to promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Specifically, these are technologies and materials developed for organizations like businesses or higher learning institutions that guide students to the right learning activities and help them process the information they need to know.

The key to good instructional design is to follow the ADDIE process: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. These steps break down as follows:

  1. Analyze: Gather information about your audience, the tasks to be completed, and the project’s overall goals. Classify the information to make the content more applicable and successful.
  2. Design: Begin to create the project using information gathered from the analysis phase in conjunction with the theories and models of instructional design. Start with writing a learning objective. Then, identify and break down tasks. Finally, determine the activities required for the audience to meet the goals.
  3. Develop: Assemble the blueprints from the design phase and develop the planned technologies/materials.
  4. Implement: Test all the materials to identify if they are functional and appropriate for the intended audience.
  5. Evaluate: Ensure the materials achieved the desired goals. Because the ADDIE model is an iterative process, at each stage, the designer can assess the project’s elements and revise them if necessary.

And that’s the basics of it! Of course, the ADDIE model is just a framework; you’ll need to flesh it out to make it appropriate for your needs. If you are interested in learning more, let us know, and be sure to check out these great resources on instructional design:

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Why Knowledge Transfer Matters

Do not underestimate what a well-executed plan of knowledge transfer can do for your company. It’s easy to think of knowledge transfer as something that sounds more complex than it really is. After all, we’re just talking about training, aren’t we?

Actually, we aren’t. Training is an aspect of knowledge transfer– a critical one– but it should comprise only a portion of your knowledge transfer strategy. With knowledge transfer, you have the opportunity to develop and maintain an internal, accessible network of knowledge. Through effective sharing mechanisms and tools, your organization can overcome complications such as tacit knowledge, internal conflicts, and disparate levels of expertise. In the end, you’ll maximize company coordination and efficiency while minimizing knowledge barriers.

Strategic Results has managed knowledge transfer processes both internally and for other organizations. We bring our experience to the forefront in offering knowledge transfer services, including:

  • developing strategic knowledge transfer plans
  • conceptualizing, developing, and testing tools and materials
  • implementing plans for knowledge transfer tools
  • targeting populations using a variety of strategies and tactics, and
  • developing and collecting metrics.

Among our largest and most frequent clients is the NIH, and currently we are applying for an NIH SBIR grant based on providing knowledge transfer tools to new PIs. We think the idea’s a winner– but that’s a topic for another post!

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The Best Online Resources for Freelancing and Outsourcing

Last week, I wrote about the services Strategic Results provides in staffing and administration. But what if you just need some freelance support on a project? It may be preferable to take advantage of one of the many freelance networks available online.

That said, we know from experience that it’s not always easy identifying which of these sites will meet your needs. Here are a few we like to use whether we are looking for some quick assistance, or otherwise looking to develop longer-term relationships with professionals.

Amazon Mechanical Turk: An online marketplace where businesses can set up tasks for any worker to complete; designed for the things a computer can’t accomplish.

Elance: Probably the most well-known site for freelancers, and with good reason– this is a great way to post your jobs and connect with the best people in their fields.

SkillsHive: A freelance network that is organized based on skills– the skills you have, and the skills you need.

Odesk: A great resource for hiring low-cost, international engineering talent.

Freelancer: An outsourcing market for small businesses.

GroupTalent: A good place for hiring technical developers and designers.

Incidentally, we are also working on building our own online professional marketplace– one which will take advantage of the ever-intriguing promise of Bitcoins. Look for more details on the upcoming beta release in the next few months!

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The Five Steps Towards Flawless Staffing

Welcome to the first iteration of a new feature for this blog: Strategic Results Services. This is the beginning of a broader effort to revitalize the Science Meetings blog. In the coming months you will see more regular updates detailing the Strategic Results suite of services and profiles of different projects we are working on. But don’t assume it will be all about us– with every post we will offer added resources or information that could help you with your next project. Let us know what you think in the comments!

The first service we will cover is administration and staffing support. Achieving your goals as an organization means having the right personnel matched to the right tasks, ensuring that their administrative, technical, and management skills and experience meet the specific contract personnel requirements. Your criteria for success here are stability, high performance, and employee satisfaction. The key is to adhere to the five-step staffing methodology:

  • Resume Review – Resumes are evaluated to ensure skills and experience meet the company’s standards.
  • In-Person Interview – Qualified candidates are evaluated through an intense in-person behavioral interview.
  • Thorough Evaluation and Screening – Each qualified candidate’s skills and abilities are tested, including personality evaluations and any relevant skill and software testing.
  • Background Check – A complete background check is conducted for all qualified candidates that are selected for the position.
  • Reference Check – A complete reference check and confirmation is completed for all qualified candidates.

It is through variations of these steps that we accomplish all our staffing support, providing personnel of various disciplines from administrative and support staff to support in budgeting and accounting, contracts, human resources, program management, operations, and technical support in IT, engineering, and scientific professions.

Next week, we will look at the other side of the coin: freelance staffing, and what are the best resources for finding freelancers online.

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Pictures from the ICCC New York Conference

We reported recently about our delight in being one of the lucky small businesses to receive an invitation to the ICCC Conference in New York. Unfortunately, our representative at the event, Joe Awni, was unable to take pictures of the proceedings.

The good news is we’ve received pictures from their organizers! Click here for the link to the full flickr set. This much business acumen in one room is definitely something to behold!

The ICCCs are truly a great opportunity. We hope to continue our involvement in the future.


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Strategic Results Services: Strategic Planning

One of the services we offer at Strategic Results is to help agencies and institutes develop their strategic plans. Strategic planning is among the most fundamental processes in executing an organization’s missions and realizing its broader vision for the future. In the corporate world, the advantages yielded through strategic planning are well-documented, as study after study have linked the formal planning process to improvements in company performance and organizational productivity. We ourselves swear by the plans we’ve developed for own operations.

Strategic planning is not just for businesses, however. Our interest is always in serving the scientific and medical communities, and research-based organizations arguably stand the most to gain from a formal planning process. These plans can define the organization’s future not just internally but in a broader context—in finding solutions to perennial problems of health research and implementation, from training gaps, to public outreach barriers, to health disparities in the nation and worldwide.

Why develop a strategic plan?

A well-crafted strategic plan will:

  • Concentrate the organization’s members and constituents towards common goals
  • Ensure optimal use of the organization’s resources, aligning them towards areas of greatest importance
  • Establish clear-cut objectives that can realistically be attained within the next five years
  • Provide clarity about what the organization wants to achieve and how to go about it, which in turn will guide day-to-day actions and decisions
  • Provide a means for measuring the organization’s progress, and a mechanism for improvement should goals not be met

Strategic planning: A step-to-step guide

While the contents of a strategic plan will diverge significantly between corporations, nonprofit groups, and federal entities, the essential planning principles hold true in every case. The Research Foundation at the State University of New York (SUNY) identifies the seven key steps to creating a successful strategic plan for any.

1.  Gather and analyze information. Look at the environment in which the organization operates, as well as internal strengths and weaknesses. Try breaking into smaller teams and meetings, then consolidating the responses. Be sure to involve outside stakeholders!

2.  Identify the organization’s critical issues/priorities. Distill the input from Step 1 into a list of key issues facing the organization. Consider what externals changes and trends, as well as which internal strengths and weaknesses, will have the greatest impact on your organization’s ability to achieve its mission.

3.  Develop a strategic vision statement that sets future direction for the organization—what your organization will ideally be achieving in the future.

4.  If necessary, review the mission statement. The mission statement is your organization’s broad description of its purpose and ultimate end goals. Review it in light of the emerging vision statement. Is it still clear and relevant? Is it distinct from other organizations?

5.  Develop strategic goals. Strategic goals are broad statements of what your organization hopes to achieve in the next 5 years. These should be outcome-focused, realistic, attainable, and measurable. Lay your goals out on a timeline if possible—the more specific, the more likely you are to keep to your objectives.

6.  Formulate strategies for attaining each goal and resolving issues. A good strategy leverages organization competencies and corrects organizational shortcomings.

7.  Use the strategic plan to develop annual objectives as well as to guide day-to-day decisions.

Remember, once the plan is written, it still must reviewed and updated on a regular basis to check that the vision remains preeminent and that steady progress persists towards the goals. Formal review meetings should be held once a year, if not more often.

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Our Pitch at the ICCCs

Last week, we were honored to participate in the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) annual conference at the Fortune Magazine headquarters in New York City. We were in awe of the knowledge and expertise offered by the conference’s distinguished speakers as well as the fellow growing businesses in attendance. Our Chief Information Officer, Joe Awni, shared some of our own great government solutions with big investors during the pitching session. Now that the conference is done and over, we’d like to share those ideas with you!

Creating a high performance research lab

The problem: Two thirds of research funding is awarded to first-time researchers—researchers who are trained in science, but not in the HR, communications, and leadership skills needed to run a high-functioning lab.

Our solution: Develop web-based modules in HR, marketing, and communications that new Principal Investigators can use to develop their soft skills. We are working with scientists at the NIH to secure an SBIR grant for the making of these tools.

Superior measuring of grant performance

The problem: Almost 98% of grant giving federal agencies have failed in monitoring grants according to Government Accountability Office (GAO) standards. The White House has issued a mandate that all poor performance in grant monitoring be fixed.

Our solution: Offer federal agencies a web- and cloud-based solution that evaluates, assesses, and monitors grant performance based on GAO requirements.

Processing travel expenses with a mobile, cloud-based application

The problem: The NIH processes hundreds of millions annually in federal per diem travel expenses for federal and grantee travel, but they do so with an average error rate of 15%. For example, people processing the expenses might forget to exclude alcoholic drinks from reimbursements, or they may simply transpose digits incorrectly.

Our solution:  Users will use their mobile devices to upload information directly from receipts onto a cloud-based storage system. This program will automatically track datasets, find errors, reduce processing time, and save the government money.

Enhancing e-mail security

Problem: In the context of PGP/GPG emails, key verification is currently done by comparing two strings in hexadecimal. However, this isn’t as secure as it sounds—third party Certificate Authorities (CA) are known to issue keys arbitrarily.

Our solution: Develop a method of key fingerprint verification that is unique and nearly impossible to forge. Code will be written and tested via a DARPA grant.

We are excited about our upcoming projects! Stayed tuned into the blog for updates on our progress and other services we offer.

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November 29, 2013 · 4:46 pm

Strategic Results is Pitching at the Inner City Capital Connections New York Conference

Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is one of the biggest names in business growth. Every year, inner city companies compete for the opportunity to formally pitch their businesses to an audience of investors at the ICCC Conference in New York. We’re extremely proud to count Strategic Results among the 300 companies selected to make the pitch at this year’s conference, taking place tomorrow at the Fortune Magazine headquarters.

The ICCC Conference is truly the kind of opportunity that small businesses like ours feel lucky to take part in. It’s hosted by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a nonprofit research and strategy organization that supports inner city businesses with access to education, networking, and capital.  Nowhere is this support so tangible as at the annual conference in New York, which brings together seasoned capital providers and growing companies for a day of discussion and business development.

Joe Awni, our Chief Information Officer, will be representing us at the event. He will attend presentations by business leaders including Daymond John, creator of the FUBU clothing brand and investor on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank, Steven Rogers, Professor at Harvard Business School, and Amir Kirkwood, partner at the merchant bank Next Street.

The highlight of the conference, of course, is the pitching session. Companies will only have 3-5 minutes to capture the interest of an assembly of investors. It is a quick-paced, high pressure event, but for companies who make an impression, the presentation is more than worth it. The average deal size is $3.6 million, and since the ICCC’s inception in 2005, a total of 5,694 jobs have been created. There is a lot on the line, but we don’t doubt that Joe will put forward our best.

Last night, Joe attended a pre-conference networking reception at Bank of America, and today, he’ll present the pitch. Along the way, he’ll send us updates and pictures to upload on the blog. We wish him the best of luck!

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