Friday, October 26, 2012

Order Fulfillment Systems Help Small Businesses Grow

When you own a small business, you quickly have to become an expert on everything from management to shipping so that your customers are satisfied with your products, your customer service and your ability to deliver what they need. The order fulfillment systems you choose to get your product out the door and into the hands of your customers can make or break the success of product-oriented companies. Fortunately, today's small to medium sized businesses can outsource their warehousing and shipment needs to shipping organizations specializing in tailored packing and shipping solutions. Although this means handing over control of one aspect of your business to someone else, it's often a great alternative to trying to be too many things to too many people. In fact, there are at least five ways that contract order fulfillment systems can save your business money and help it grow.
The Third Party Advantage: Letting The Experts Do What They Do Best
Having time to focus on what you do best as a business owner means turning over some of the details to others so that they can do what they do best. Third party shipping and order fulfillment systems make up one area where it's best to let someone else take control. You'll eliminate the required learning curve that can slow down distribution for days, weeks and even months while your own crew is trained. Any shipping will be done right the first time and every time if you choose an experienced distributor that already has trained crews in place. Because they focus purely on expediting deliveries, they won't get distracted by other issues. You'll have more time for everything you need to do while distribution automation takes care of deliveries for your company in a timely, professional manner.
Outsourcing Saves Money With Voice Directed Picking And Distribution Automation
When you outsource your shipping, you'll quickly realize that you're saving money every week. Some of the biggest changes will be in money lost due to damage, incorrect packing or slow pack times. Companies offering a variety of order fulfillment systems such as distribution automation and voice directed picking can streamline every aspect of pick, pack and ship for your business. Trained staff are less likely to damage products and will work together to make sure there are no slow-downs due to bottlenecks in the system. That means faster fulfillment and happier customers.
Tailored Solutions By The Experts: From Voice Directed Picking To Pick To Light
Not all order fulfillment systems are the same, so you'll want to compare the various solutions offered by third party providers to determine whether they're right for your business. Look for companies that offer pick to light, warehouse and distribution automation, and pick to voice solutions. They will give you the most flexible options and tailor them to your product whether you need to pack and ship delicate collectables or pallets of products. This flexibility also means that when your business takes off, your order fulfillment specialists won't be stymied by any changes. They'll simply create new voice directed picking solutions or distribution automation solutions to meet your needs.
There's no need to invest in your own warehouse facilities, packing materials or added staff if you need full service order fulfillment systems. You'll discover that by outsourcing to a company that offers full service distribution automation and voice directed picking solutions, you'll keep yourself on time and under budget.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Made Dispatch Furniture Is Superior to Pre-Fabricated Products

If there's one thing that can derail a dispatch operator's performance, it's poorly designed and manufactured dispatch furniture. There are several reasons to be careful when selecting a dispatch console. Here are a few of them:
  • A dispatch operator often works long, strenuous shifts. The only way to make this demanding job easier is by investing in comfortable, yet highly functional dispatch furniture.

  • A dispatch console employed in an emergency dispatch facility, or command center needs to accommodate ancillary equipment based on specific applications. All of this equipment and cabling is to be efficiently, yet neatly installed.

  • Adjustability of dispatch furniture is critical to the well-being of operators because they must stand for extended periods of time without a break. Not all operators have the same height, or body structure, so it's important that whenever possible, that the desk top surface be able to lift and lower quietly and safely.
Although these are just a few considerations, it's important that a dispatch console be configured to the specific application. That's why custom dispatch furniture is found in more dispatch centers than ever before.
Pre-fabricated or off-the-shelf furniture doesn't always meet the needs of the user. Moreover, one can't predict how long the furniture will last because conventional laminates are prone to chipping, scratching and de-gluing unlike the latest space-age surface materials. And it should be said that pre-fabricated metal dispatch furniture does not allow for customized features that meet unusual design, or performance requirements.
Dispatch consoles that are made to specifications allow for customized features that are not available in a pre-fabricated product. A custom manufacturer can design to specific shape and size to fit a room with unique characteristics. And combining features like a power assisted lift with book shelves is an example of something you would not normally see in a pre-fabricated product, but is something that can be done for a custom product.
Consult your dispatch furniture provider for a professional opinion on whether you should opt for a split level or single surface workstation. If you can afford it, an adjustable dispatch console offers better ergonomic value for the investment. Choose from options such as a manually adjustable surface, or a power assisted lift.
Made-to-order 911 dispatch furniture is shipped in pre-assembled modules that can easily pass through a standard doorway. This means that the buyer can save money by installing the workstations without factory help.
There are many reasons to go with a custom control room console and it doesn't necessarily mean higher cost. However, it does mean the best investment for the long term and the welfare of the end user.

Friday, October 5, 2012

E-Learning: Top-Notch Training in a Struggling Economy

The world economy has been undergoing many changes; some are minor shifts, while others have been coming in the form of drastic waves of financial deterioration for people, businesses and countries. Governments everywhere are tightening their belts. Businesses are seeking creative ways to thrive under the threat of another recession. Educational organizations are working hard to educate in a world where technology is bursting but budgets are shrinking.
One way each of these sectors can grow is through e-learning. Simply, e-learning is the teaching and learning through the use of electronic products and devices. Companies, organizations and governments are beginning to recognize the importance of growing with the technology. E-learning is no longer limited to meeting with a class online at a specific time from your home computer. Now, many courses and training are designed to offer the flexibility of access to the module at the user's convenience and even using the device of his or her choice: laptop, PC, tablet or mobile - all can be used to access most e-learning and training.
What is the difference between e-learning and reading an informative book or watching a training video?
You could hand your employees a booklet full of guidelines, policies and practices (we've all been there). But how many are going to read the booklet and further still, how many will actually absorb any of the material? And how would you know either way? The same goes for a training video. When people are talking at the audience, how much information is actually getting absorbed?
When one is given the opportunity to learn via e-learning, he or she is put in a situation where learning can happen in an interactive and ideally enticing way. Results are often (but not necessarily) measurable by various means of evaluation. Timing is flexible; access is often flexible as well. Some people may choose to use their smart phone as a means of taking the course, while others would prefer to sit at the desk. Technology has opened the door to an almost custom-made, personalized form of learning.
E-learning Saves Money
E-learning has many benefits, but one of the biggest benefits is that it can save a company or organization money. For the success of businesses, it is important to invest in training. Traditionally, training can involve costs such as participant travel, food and hotel expenses, room rental, teaching and learning materials, and, of course, the cost of hiring an instructor. There is also the issue of scheduling to consider.
When companies use e-learning as their means of training, they can eradicate most of these costs and put their money into creating dynamic, well-designed training programs that can be accessed by many more participants than can fit in a typical meeting room used for training. This will stretch a training dollar much further.
Examples of E-learning
A little bit of research on the web will reveal that there are e-learning modules, tutorials, lessons, and classes designed using varying degrees of interactivity. Instead of the learner watching a movie or a video containing all of the information spouted by a professor or expert, the learner has a bit more control over the way the information is presented - and absorbed. As an example of a short and simple e-learning vignette, MSNBC produced a piece called Birth of a Tornado. In this example, simple animations and illustrations complement the information displayed about how tornadoes are created. It is up to the learner to click on the "Next" button before moving forward. This is a common feature in e-learning modules, which, in fact, personalizes lessons for each individual, taking his or her needs and capabilities into consideration.
Another more advanced type of e-learning module is a serious game/simulation type of video, such as this Global Warming Simulation game presented by C02Fx. In this game, the player/learner is in charge of making key environmental decisions for Brazil in 1960, before the world was aware of the negative impact human activities are having on the environment. Elements such as budget, policy, economics, development and science must be considered as you manoeuver through this simulation.
E-learning can be as simplified or as in-depth as you choose. Depending on the subject matter, the learners and the circumstances, each module must be planned with care and with skill in order to ensure the maximum potential for learning.
People everywhere are seeking ways to save a dollar while maximizing their skills and potential in their careers. The possibilities for using e-learning in training are seemingly infinite. Participants engage in productive and appealing training while businesses, organizations and governments save money.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Importance of Having a Fire Extinguisher Handy

Everywhere you go, you hear about how it is always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in your house. You never want to be unprepared if an accident happens. Even though you may call your local fire department for assistance during your time of need, some small fires you can actually put out before they become a much larger problem. It is important to know where you should keep this type of equipment, so if the situation arises, you have access to it right away.
Take a walk around your home and make notes of places where you can store a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible to everyone who lives in the house. Make sure the locations you choose are easily visible as well. Even though they aren't the most attractive type of home d├ęcor, do not try to camouflage or hide them with curtains or underneath the cabinets. In the event of an emergency, time is of the essence and the time you spent uncovering a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between getting a small fire under control or it quickly getting out of hand. Some good places to store your equipment are near exits and doorways. They should also be placed no higher than shoulder height, which is approximately five feet off of the ground.
Did you know that the kitchen is the part of the home that is the most susceptible to fires? This is where most of the cooking and food preparation are done, and unfortunately a large majority of house fires start here. That is why it is very important to keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. It may seem like a good idea to keep it near the stove, but if a situation was to occur where you needed to use this piece of equipment, you may have trouble getting it. You could get injured and lose your home in the process. The best place for storage is actually near the entrances and exits of the room.
Two other very important places that often get overlooked are the basement and attic areas. These are areas people tend to use for storage. Some of the items that get stored are very flammable. In the event of an emergency, you can't afford to go looking around for a fire extinguisher to save your treasured possessions. Fires can easily get out of control when there are suitable conditions and combustible items in a secluded area. In addition to extinguishers, you should take extra precautions and place smoke detectors in all of the entrances of your home.
Make sure that in addition to purchasing the right amount of extinguishers for your home, that everyone knows how to properly use them. The better you are prepared to handle the different types of emergency situations in your home, the more you reduce your risks for loss.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How Can I Expand My Business? You Can Consider Going Online

Being in business is never easy. In fact, it is probably getting a lot tougher these days. I am sure you will agree with me if you are a business owner.
Most probably, you are constantly thinking about how you can expand your business and serve more customers. Ultimately, if you are not constantly growing your business, it is only a matter of time before your competitors push you out of the market.
So What Should I Do to Reach More Customers?
Well, one of the best ways to expand your business is to go online. You can always sell products online instead of just relying on offline sales. Of course, I am making an assumption here. I am assuming that you are running an offline business and you do not have any online presence.
The reason why you should go online is pretty obvious. If you are only conducting your business offline, you are severely limiting your reach. Basically, you are limited by your geographical location.
By bringing your business online, more potential customers will be able to find out about your products or services.
SEO Is Important for Your Website
Needless to say, you need a website if you are going to venture online. However, most people got it wrong when it comes to a website.
Having a website by itself is not going to bring you tons of new visitors. You need to do something in order to drive traffic to your website. One of the best ways to do so is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Shopping Cart Solution
If you are selling things online, you probably need a shopping cart solution. With a shopping cart solution, you will be able to manage your sales more easily.
However, a good solution can probably cost you a few thousand dollars if you are developing your own system. If you are just starting out, you might want to use the service of an established shopping cart solution provider instead.
Social Media
If you are just going online, 'social media' might be an unfamiliar term to you. But I am pretty sure you have heard of Facebook and Twitter.
Make sure you do spend some time to set up a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account.
How to Get More Likes and Followers
Obviously, just setting up a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account is pointless if there are no Likes or followers.
So how do you get more Likes and followers? Well, it is actually pretty simple. Nothing too complicated. Just be 'social'.
There are some fan pages that already have thousands or even close to millions of followers. Just spend some time contributing useful content to them. By doing so, you can easily gain tons of Likes and followers.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Major Benefits Of Outsourcing Business And IT Processes

Information Technology is an integral part of today's generation. Every business needs to use systems and programs which allow faster processing of business transactions. These can be costly and a lot of companies resort to outsourcing in order to save money.
Companies which offer customer and IT solutions to other companies clients are known as Business Process Outsourcing companies or BPOs. These companies can be based within or outside of the United States. Out of the country BPOs usually offer lower man power and utility charges since they are computed based on the on-going rates of the BPO's country. A lot of these companies provide high standard products and services, that can be compared to the ones available locally.
There are also in-country outsourcing companies who take care of the programs and systems that local companies need. As the name states, these developers are located within the United States, and are capable of offering competitive IT solutions.
IT services involve creation, maintenance, repair, and upgrading of computer systems. Software developers are the ones who write source codes and monitors its performance from the testing period until the program's launch. Most programs that are created by well-known developers come with a warranty to ensure client satisfaction.
Entrepreneurs would like to focus more on the manufacturing and operations side of their business. This is why most big companies prefer to hire contractors or other companies to handle other business processing needs for them. Not only is this more cost efficient, it also makes companies more productive and goal oriented. The services offered by third party providers typically involve analysis, research, planning, training, testing, implementation, and launching of the system or program included in the contract.
Programming companies focus on the technical side of a business. Because of this, they are equipped with the right tools to design and create programs that are both user-friendly and efficient. Clients can also ask to have programs customized according to their needs. Nowadays, developers are also capable of embedding apps onto the client's website or software.
A company's need for information technology constantly changes. There are always new innovations in technology, and businesses need to keep up with the fast changing environment to better serve their customers. It is imperative that program developers possess an insight on these possibilities, and that the systems they create are capable of being upgraded.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Experience of Dealing With Drop Shippers

Who is a drop shipper? He is someone who takes your products and ships it to your customers and is an asset to e-commerce. People engaged in e-commerce need not worry about the hassles shipping might create because shippers can easily do this work for them.
However, there are certain aspects you need to consider that include finding a reliable shipper. A very crucial element of your drop shipping business would be to find a suitable shipper. You need to make sure that the shipper you have chosen is honest because this can impact your work immensely.
In most cases, the people at the upper level of a hierarchy are more reliable as compared to small distributors. Companies that manufacture goods make them in bulk and then look for companies to finance them. Hence, mostly those businesses are safe to work with because only reputable businesses usually have a good track record.
Another fact is that usually first and second tier distributors are more reputable because they supply to a wider range of area. However, the situation is opposite with small distributors who tend to increase their prices unnecessarily.
The risk of low tier manufacturers is that they have a high probability of closing down overnight and disappearing without any prior notice. Therefore, you should make sure that whenever it is possible, deal with the direct manufacturers of the product.You need to think about the shipping costs involved in selling your product before you are actually putting it up for sale. However, in case your shipper is located in another country, then you should make sure that your products are at least in the price range of hundreds or thousands.
You should go for direct distributors or manufacturers because their prices are not marked up by middlemen. As soon as your customer orders a product, you can call your drop shipper and ask him to deliver the required quantity to that customer. Then, as ordered, your shipper will ship the specific quantity needed of that product to your customer safely.
You need to think about the shipping costs involved in selling your product before you are actually putting it up for sale. However, in case your shipper is located in another country, then you should make sure that your products are at least in the price range of hundreds or thousands.
However, you can sell cheaper products if your shipper is in the same country. In order to search for a good drop shipper, you can take guidance from a 'manufacturer's directory' or 'drop shipper's directory'. These mediums will help you find a reliable and trustworthy drop shipper to do business with in the long run.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Make "Backing Up" Part of Your Business Routine

Are you one of those people who make backups? I bet you only started because you lost something important. Human nature, as it is, means we only change our ways when circumstance forces us to. An important document was lost by accident, a book you were working on is lost when your hard drive crashed. Worst of all is when you delete the file you need because you thought it was something else.
We learn to make backups because of past experience, not because people warn you to do so. How many articles have you read about changing the way you do something before it causes a problem? We often wait until it's too late and there is no way to recover the situation.
This unfortunately also applies to business as well. However, losing a personal letter is one thing but the loss of a spreadsheet you have been working on for months can have a much bigger impact.
I am sure your account was insist you keep all paper work, you will end up with folders full of... well... paper.
Bills arrive in paper envelopes, advertising leaflets etc. So much for the paperless office.
But what happens if you lose your business paper work? Your accountant will be upset but those who will want to audit you at some point may be even more upset.
So it's time to take control of all the information in your office.
The website
Don't rely totally on your web host to keep a copy of your website. Web hosts can and do get themselves in to situations where backups go astray. Servers can fail, that means not only will your site be office line but a greater chance of your site being useable.
Make it a habit that you make a copy direct from the server itself. Do not use tools that access the site as a browser would. Ask your web host how you can access the site direct, you need to know about File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and the usernames and passwords that go with it.
FTP is very similar to connecting to a disk drive, only a piece of software, FTP Client, is required to make things easy for you. Easy as in dragging and dropping from the server to your computer.
The office paper work
If there was a single step to make a copy of an important document, would you do it? A decent scanner can be bought for under €200. Installation takes minutes, change the settings to store scans in a folder just scans.
Each document can be scanned and named so it has meaning, without having to look at the scan itself. They can be copied or stored direct to an external hard drive. As an extra step you could also store it on a cloud based service.
The financial considerations
Hardware needed to keep your data safe is getting cheaper all the time. Making your data safe can cost under €300, a small investment. Now consider how much your website generates in sales direct or other, how long can you afford to be without it?
Keeping your business documents safe could be priceless. Considering penalty payments that might be due and of course account fees if anything was lost or replacements delaying tax submission.
There is already a lot of information on the Internet on how to backup websites and best software to use with scanners. Read, research and prepare. Don't let a problem force you in to action, be ready before it happens!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Basic Principles Of Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication

When you are in need of precision prototyping services you may start off your search with an internet search engine to check out what kind of products and information you will be able to find. The internet is becoming more and more of a valuable resource and selling tool where you can find almost anything that you are looking for from products to information and even customer reviews for most industries. In terms of prototyping you'll really need to find a company who can aid in making prototypes in the kinds of materials that you are in search of in the sizes that you need. Some prototyping firms are meant to make huge prototypes and some are designed to make very small prototypes and you wouldn't want a firm made to prototype computer components to create a prototype truck engine, or vice versa.
 
Precision sheet metal fabrication describes the producing of products from materials for example steel, stainless steel, spring steel, titanium, aluminum, copper and brass. The products are typically designed by companies in high-tech industries such as aerospace, automotive, defense and medical. The design files will then be uploaded into state-of-the-art equipment and manufactured using leading edge equipment and engineering systems. There are various different precision sheet metal fabrication processes. Like for example, cutting, forming, bending, assembling and finishing.
 
Cutting sheet metal to size is possible by sawing, shearing or lasering. While shearing had been the standard in the industry, it is quickly being replaced by lasering. Plasma and laser cutting tables present you with a cleaner cut as compared with shearing and can cut through either thin or thick materials-including .500 inch steel-quickly and efficiently. Sheet metal fabrication companies which have these capabilities normally have a shorter turnaround time.
 
Stamping forms the metal and will work on the material meant for bending and assembling. The formation of the product can include a number of fabrication processes including but not limited to punching, blanking, embossing and deep drawing. It could be done with either a mechanical or a hydraulic press; one is certainly not better than the other. The best press could eventually depend upon the application.
 
Bending is often a flexible process in precision sheet metal fabrication which allows the formation of different shapes with the use of hammering and press brakes. It requires complex mathematical formulas to find the correct bend allowance for the compression and stretching of the material. Lots of companies have found that reverse engineering with the use of CAD programs is the most proper way to calculate the bend allowance.
 
The moment all of the components are prepared, they are assembled. Welding is sometimes performed by a highly skilled craftsman, but the use of programmable spot welders is becoming more and more common. Programmable welders, at times known as robots, make the manufacturing process safer, less expensive, and more efficient. In some instances riveting and threaded fasteners will also be used to assemble the products.
 
Some products will be needing additional finishing. The product could possibly be sandblasted and painted or maybe powder coated. Powder coating is a type of metal coating that is applied as a dry powder rather than a liquid. It is cured under high temperature to bind it to the material and for an exceptionally durable, hard skin. The finished product is then usually examined and shown to the customer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

ABDX Battery Discharger

REASONS TO TEST YOUR BATTERIES
What is the capacity of your battery just now?
When will you have to change your battery?
What can you do to improve the life expectancy for your battery?
These are the principal questions because you should perform discharge test to your batteries. The batteries are composed of electrochemical cells. The fabrication technology for these products is complex, so it is not strange to find manufacturing faults. On the other hand, the degradation of the batteries is inevitable. In order to avoid unexpected costs stem from a fail in your batteries, it is important to schedule preventive maintenance for batteries in your company. That's why it is so advisable to know the answer to the previous questions at every time. The BATTERY DISCHARGE TEST is the most simple and efficient way to analyse the main parameters of your batteries.
ABDX FEATURES
The ABDX battery discharger purpose is to check the efficiency of any type of battery. It is a versatile device, based on MOSFET or IGBT technology (depending on the size of the discharger), it can be used with batteries of any technology and voltage/capacity. The ABDX controls automatically the discharge current and keep it constant, so the total capacity of the battery can be easily calculated once the test is finished.
The following test parameters must be introduced before performing the test:
Stop voltage
Maximum time allowed for test
Discharge current
Then, the test runs automatically until the STOP VOLTAGE or MAXIMUM TIME is reached.
The following parameters can be visualized on the display during the test:
Capacity discharged
Time
Battery voltage
Current
Programmed stop voltage
It is easy to download the test data to a computer and to make graphics and reports with the provided software.
STANDARD ABDX UNITS
VOLTAGE - CURRENT RANGE
12-48V - 0-100A
12-48V - 0-200A
12-80V - 0-150A
12-80V - 0-200A
12-96V - 0-100A
12-96V - 0-150A
12-96V - 0-200A
24-135V - 0-150A
48-240V - 75A
48-400V - 40A
600V - 15A
*Other voltages and currents available on request
PRINCIPAL BATTERY TYPES
Lead acid
Nickel-cadmium battery
Both supported by ABDX Battery Discharger
Typical FAILS IN BATTERIES
SULFATION (LEAD ACID)
CARBONATION (NICKEL-CADMIUM)
GRID CORROSION
EMBEDDED SEDIMENTS
CONDUCTOR CORROSION
These situations lead to a gradual loss of the battery capacity, which can be easily detected by performing a BATTERY DISCHARGE TEST.
ADVICE
Periodically perform battery discharge tests and impedance tests.
A typical period is 25% of life expectancy for the battery.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Protecting Trade Secrets

As reported in the Wall Street Journal and other media, notoriously secretive Apple Inc. was forced to divulge many diverse, and fascinating, trade secrets in its closely-watched litigation with Samsung (now in jury deliberation). Witnesses were compelled to testify concerning Apple's development of the iPhone and iPad, its marketing budget and other sensitive matters, including - ironically - measures taken to protect the confidentiality of its trade secrets.
Unlike patents, a trade secret cannot gain protection through registration, but only through reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. For Apple, such efforts included "locking down" one floor in a building and installing cameras and keycard readers to ensure that Project Purple, their code name for development of the iPhone, would remain confidential. Team members were recruited only from within the company and were only told the nature of the project after they had joined the team.
While few of us deal with trade secrets of that magnitude, virtually every successful company has some commercially valuable information that derives its value from not being widely known. In a future blog post, we will address judicial, legislative and administrative issues relating to trade secrets, but this post concerns practical measures that should be considered to protect the confidentiality of trade secrets.
Perhaps the first step in any comprehensive effort to protect a company's intellectual property rights is to perform an IP audit, interviewing key personnel from various departments and functions, including R&D, product development, marketing, sales, legal and financial, compiling a list of all proprietary information, describing the nature of the information, how it is being protected, who has access to it (internally and externally), its approximate value, the cost of developing it, how easily it could be duplicated without authorization, and so forth, in order to develop a rational plan of protection.
Physical security measures may be employed, such as erecting barriers to prevent unauthorized entry onto the premises or to sensitive areas, employing security guards, requiring employee and visitor ID badges, storing materials behind locked doors or in locked cabinets, requiring users to sign a logbook, installing security cameras, requiring regular use of shredders (or employing a professional shredding service) and labeling confidential documents and materials as such. Computers should require passwords, which should be changed regularly, and copiers should record the user's ID.
More basically, sensitive information should be disseminated only to those with a need-to-know. In particular, employees should be instructed not to cc confidential information to the whole company, or worse yet to outsiders. After all, an item is - by definition - not a trade secret if reasonable efforts aren't made to keep it secret.
Each new hire should be required to sign an agreement containing confidentiality and non-competition provisions and a clause stating that all IP developed during the course of employment is assigned to the employer. Comparable language may also be stated in the Employee Handbook.
Confidential information should be shared with customers, vendors, contractors or other outside parties only to the extent absolutely required and only after receipt of a satisfactory, signed Non-Disclosure Agreement.
When an employee resigns or is terminated, the company should consider restricting the employee's access to sensitive materials and monitoring the employee's emails, downloading and copying activities.
Prior to departure, a checklist should be reviewed to ensure the employee has returned all company property, including notebook computer, ID badge, keys and so forth. The employee should attend an exit interview, where he or she is handed a copy of the confidentiality and non-compete agreements that were signed at hiring, is reminded of those continuing obligations and asked to sign an acknowledgement.
After departure, the company may wish examine the employee's computer, work area, files and other confidential information he or she was privy to, to ensure all appears to be in order. Finally, the company should preserve the former employee's emails and hard-drive temporarily (not simply assigning the computer to a new colleague), just in case of trouble.
While the unauthorized theft and misuse of a company's trade secrets can have devastating consequences that can be hard to quantify and even harder to remedy through legal action, at least the types of measures describe above can go a long way towards minimizing the risks and enhancing the odds of a satisfactory final outcome.