Accounting Information


Accurate cost data are required for the successful implementation of the integrated physical distribution management concept using total cost analysis, for the management and control of physical distribution operations, and to aid in setting selling prices and in justifying price differentials.

As the cost of physical distribution increases, the need for accurate accounting for the costs becomes increasingly critical. Since the physical distribution function is relatively more energy intensive and labor intensive than other areas of the firm, its ratio of costs to total company costs has been steadily increasing. Efficient and effective distribution policies cannot be determined until the costs related to separate functional areas and their interaction are made available to distribution decision makers.

The quality of the accounting data will influence management’s ability to exploit new markets, take advantage of innovative transportation systems, make changes in packaging, choose between common carriers and private trucking, increase deliveries or increase inventories, and determine to what extent the order-processing system should be automated.

The accounting system must be capable of providing information to answer the following questions:

a)        What are the impacts of physical distribution costs on contribution by product, by territory, by customer, and by salesperson?

b)        What are the costs associated with providing additional levels of customer service? What trade-offs are necessary and what are the incremental benefits or losses?

c)        What is the optimal amount of inventory? How sensitive is the inventory level to changes in warehousing patterns or to changes in customer service levels? How much does it cost to hold inventory?

d)        What mix of transportation modes and carriers should be used?

e)        How many field warehouses should be used and where should they be located?

f)          How many production set-ups are required? Which plants will be used to produce each product?

g)        To what extent should the order-processing system be automated?

To answer these and other questions requires knowledge of the costs and revenues that will change if the physical distribution system changes. That is, determination of a product’s contribution should be based on how corporate revenues, expenses, and hence profitability would change if the product line were dropped. Any costs or revenues that are unaffected by the decision are irrelevant to the problem. For example, a relevant cost woul be public warehouse handling charges associated with a product’s sales; a non-relevant cost would be the overhead costs associated with the firm’s private trucking fleet.

Implementation of this approach to deceision making is severely hampered by the lack of availability of the right accounting data or the inability to use the data when they are available. The best and most sophisticated models are only as good as the accounting input, and a number of recent studies attest to the gross inadequacies of distribution cost data.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Risks: Building Blocks of Success


A person’s confidence is best measured by his or her willingness to take risks. Fear is best reflected by the degree to which a person seeks to avoid risk. The old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” will always be true. Risk, the possibility of loss, is a necessary to success as air is to life.

Imagine what would happen if everyone decided to try to live 100 percent risk-free:

  • No farmer would plant a crop because there might be too much rain or too little. Or the market price for the grain might collapse.
  • No one would start a business because comptition might cause it to fail.
  • No television programs would be produced because there might be too few viewers to attract advertisers.
  • Investors would not put money into new construction, into oil well exploration, and into new ventures.
  • Artists and authors would stop work because people might reject their activity,

To be completely secure, people would take their money out of banks (the banks may fail), hoard food (there may be an atomic war), refuse to drive cars (I may have an accident), and patients in hospitals would refuse blood transfusions (the blood may be contaminated). A goal of 100 percent security would almost overnight destroy our economy.

To avoid risk completely, no one would apply for a job (you may not get it), submit a poem to a literary journal (it may be rejected), speak up in a meeting (you may be laughed at), or ask for an order (the prospect may say No).

Here is an important point: Success-oriented people take risks and sometimes the risks turn out to be losses. Thirty-seven percent of today’s millionaires went broke after accumulating wealth. But they came back to win. No investor is always “right,” and people who build shopping centers, rersidential neighborhoods, and office buildings sometimes lose money. In the oil drilling business, a majority of wells turn out to be dry holes.

How we react to defeat is the key. You have heard people who have failed in a job or in a business of their own say, “I’ve had it. Never again!”

At times, we all feel like giving up. And if we’re not careful, we will give up. Pressure from peers to surrender can be powerful. They tell you, “Look, you tried. The plan didn’t work. Why beat your head against a wall? Don’t feel bad. Most people who try something new fail.”

These people – your peers and “friends” – are often glad to see you surrender. It’s disappointing but it’s true. They don’t have the courage to do something on their own. If they see you fail, they feel better about themselves; you are one of them – another mediocrity.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Management of the Life Cycle


The traditional branching tree control structure within an organization is simply not designed to cope with the ever changing management requirements dictated by the life-cycle changes within a large project. The fact that various input and output measures vary over the project’s life suggests that project management must focus on universal project dimensions such as cost, time and performance (quality).

As an example of how interface problems vary over the life of a project, consider the two functions of R&D and production over the life-cycle of a given product. Before the introduction of the product, R&D must be closely matched with production. R&D may be doing reliability tests which will lead to engineering changes. Production will be doing production design and process planning, which may be affected seriously by engineering changes. Thus, good communication is essential to avoid wasted resources in production.

On the other hand, in the growth phase R&D is likely to be focusing on developing the next product, while production will be ramping up production and producing long runs to avoid production losses due to setups. Thus, there will be relatively little explicit conflict between R&D and production at this phase.

In the decline phase, R&D will be in the design phase on the new product and will withdraw all R&D from the declining product. Production will be heavily involved in cost control. Again there will tend to be no apparent conflict, but good managers will make sure production is adequately consulted on the new design.

It is clear from the example that a full project management structure which focuses on future products as well as current products can help R&D to interact in a more useful fashion.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Profit Decay


Management can always shortchange sales, R&D, or market development, or forgo manufacturing improvements for the short term to make the business and profits look better. Doing so can lead the company into a cycle of profit decay that is very difficult to break out of without incurring major costs or write-offs.

A vicious and deteriorating cycle ensues until some combination of price increase or reductions in manufacturing costs and/or an expense occurs that allows the business to adhere more closely to the profit and loss framework. It is extremely important to understand that a company has, quite literally, no chance of generating attractive profits until it somehow breaks out of this cycle.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Mobilizing Support for Change Managers


Despite using the principles of influence, social networks and negotiation, change efforts in an organization can falter for different reasons. There has been a great deal of interest in finding out why people are so unwilling to stop out of their comfort zones and accept change. Some of the major  impediments to change are:

  • People believing that the change effort is yet another fad: Over a period, many employees have come to perceive different change programs as fads because they associate these with previously failed initiatives. As a result, they do not pay attention to the merits of the arguments. Change induces dissonance, and people often reduce the resulting stress by reverting to previously held assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • People who believe that change agents are not credible: Employees tend to view the strength of the change idea by associating it with the person who advocates that position. In other words, if the change manager is credible, the idea is seen as convincing. On the other hand, when the manager is perceived as untrustworthy, people tend to reject the change ideas.
  • People who have difficulty unlearning old ideas and approaches: Most often, people do not know how to stop what they have already been doing. When they are faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, they feel a sense of loss of control and this leads them to persist with their existing methods and approaches.
  • People who have difficulty learning new patterns of behavior: When people face unfamiliar situations, they often fail to comprehend the complexities of the situation. They may also feel apprehensive that if they try out new behaviors and fail, they would attract criticism. Faced with a fear of failure and believing that change would make little difference, they may refuse to invest in learning new methods and approaches.
  • People who feel that change threatens their identity: When faced with crises or threats, people tend to uphold their pride rather than appreciating the learning challenge that it offers. There is great comfort in existing belief structures, as these constitute one’s personal identity. Any attempt to change behavior may be seen as a challenge to that identity. As a result, it generates resistance to change.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Just about Cash Flow


Cash flow is different from profit. Profit is the difference between revenues and expenses. Cash flow is the difference between receipts and disbursements of cash. Profit may flow whether or not anybody has paid for anything. Cash flows only when somebody pays for something. Time after time, businesses with good sales and good profits go broke. It is surprisingly commonplace. The problem is the the cash doesn’t flow when the profit flows.

The explanations for the large number of new business failures, undercapitalization, inadequate management, and poor marketing, may be valid, but the overwhelming reason is that the managers did not understand cash flow. They behaved as if profit were cash, which is not. They acted as if all that is needed to win the business game is to make a profit, which is not true. Cash is different from profit. You need both to win the business game.

A business can survive and thrive only if it has both positive profit (not losses) and positive cash flow (more flowing into the bank than out of it). To win you must produce more than you consume, and you must do it in such a way that you can meet critical payments as they come due.

Profit may be the most common measure of whether a business is winning or losing, but cash flow is the most critical measure. Businesses can survive a surprisingly long time without profit. They die on the first payday there is no cash.

Your company’s bank is like a jar is a reservoir, so it is the gas tank. And what is in the reservoir is easy to measure. The amount in the reservoir is what was put in minus what was taken out. A convenient way to measure whether the supply is increasing or decreasing is to measure whether more was entering or leaving during the most recent period of time. Cash flow into the bank account is such a measure. How much is in the reservoir is of intetrest, of course, but it is changed by changing the cash flow.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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