Quality Insulation and Business Storms


Many companies are facing storms because they still have not learned the lesson. For these slow learners quality is regarded as something they can add to a badly designed, poorly made product to help hold it together until the buyer gets its home. However the key to survival in today’s competitive climate is real quality through every step of production and service. It is essential to the work by the lowest paid individual on the payroll or the chairman of the board. Without quality, things don’t get sent out properly or on time, and huge service departments are working flat out to repair flaws that should never have been allowed into the products in the first place.

 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, and my Lectures.

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Role of Government


In general, government has three basic economic functions. First, government provides a legal foundation and an appropriate social environment for the conduct of economic activity. Second, government both encourages competition in the marketplace and controls it. This is accomplished through legislation and government agency rules and regulations. Finally, government redistributes income from some segments o the economy to others. Government acquires revenues through taxation—taxes on income, property, sales, and payroll. These revenues are channeled back into the economy through spending and transfer payments to veterans, the aged, welfare recipients, and others in society. In short, government is a consumer of goods and services and not producer of them.

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, and my Lectures.

Three Steps to the Accounting Process


Step one is to bring all the information about changes in the property owned by the business to one central location. That information is almost always on a little piece of paper. To ensure that it is included in the records it should always be on paper. Examples of the pieces of paper are invoices, bills, checks, payroll time cards, and contracts.

Step two is to put the information into a form that makes it easy to get it. It is hard to use the information when it is in a pile of paper. The little pieces of paper come in many sizes and shapes. It is not unusual to find that you have the fourth carbon copy and can hardly read it. This step is the process of taking the information from those little pieces of paper and making readable, chronological list of the things that have happened to change the property owned by the business.

Step three is to rearrange the chronological list into clusters of information that give management answers to its questions. For instance, management would like to separate out all the things that affected the equipment owned by the business. Or the CEO might like to know what things have happened that affect the cash in the bank.

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

Managing Redeployment


A policy of employment security carries with it the task of managing the steady movement of employees out of redundant jobs and into jobs that have come into demand inside or outside the firm. Otherwise the employer faces mounting costs and the danger of carrying surplus people on the payroll, in addition to the costs and turmoil of hiring new employees. Uncontrolled, these costs jeopardize the policy of employment security, the viability of the firm, or both.

Managing the redeployment of people is not accomplished by merely setting goals and urging managers to pay heed. Specific responsibilities have to be assigned to individual managers, and specific routines for anticipating, planning, and implementing moves must be instituted. In a large organization, these arrangements will be put into place at site level, division level, and corporate level.

Retraining is and will continue to be an essential step in the process. Concrete methods that companies (and unions) have devised to ensure that retraining serves the purpose of employment security.

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

Managing Cash and Liquidity


In a turbulent environment, cash returns are important, if not more important, than reported profit returns. Cash returns lead to liquidity, and liquidity is a top priority consideration whenever risks and uncertainties surround a business situation, as they do in so many cases today. Cash and liquidity put any company in a better position to withstand a surprise blow, adapt to sudden changes, and capitalize on the narrower windows of opportunity that are commonplace in a turbulent environment.

This doesn’t mean that profits and profit growth are not important. The whole purpose of any business enterprise is to maximize profits and profit growth, but this objective will  not be achieved if business unit managers do not focus more time and attention on managing their cash and liquidity. Any entrepreneur that has lived through a start-up knows the importance of cash and liquidity. The entrepreneur knows from experience that a business can go bankrupt even while it is reporting profits. But it will never go bankrupt as long as its cash and liquidity positions are strong. Most corporate executives understand this point also, but many do not follow through to make sure it is sufficiently stressed or understood at the operating level. This is where the problem lies. Most business unit managers who operate under a corporate umbrella tend to overlook the importance of managing their own cash and liquidity and look instead to the corporation as a never ending source of funds.

The results are apparent in most corporations. Capital expenditure proposals tend to be a “wish list” often justified on project volume gains or cost savings that never occur. Working capital is allowed to build without adequate regard for carrying costs on the cash commitment. In short, overinvestment in plant and equipment, and working capital often serves as a buffer to cover sloppy business practices and control. These are practices that inevitably lead to an investment base that is too big for the business and to marginal profit returns.

Many operating managers in a corporation are not even aware of the costs incurred while excess capital is tied up in the business. This is not an exaggeration. Just ask any four or five business unit managers how much it costs to carry their inventory. Most of them will acknowledge an interest cost of, say 7—8 percent, but few will recognize that total carrying costs, which include storage, taxes, obsolescence, and shrink, actually run closer to 30 percent in today’s environment. We would also bet that none of them have such charges against their earnings, even though it is a very legitimate cost of doing business.

Not every company operates this way. Most corporate executives are not tough minded or rigorous enough in challenging cash commitments, and most business unit managers have more cash tied up in their business than required.

Ideally, every manager should think like a small business entrepreneur with his or her own money at risk. If this were the case, we would not see so many companies with bloated balance sheets and marginal returns. Left on their own, most business unit managers do not think this way, however. Life is not easier when you can draw almost at will on coroprate resources to meet the payroll, build inventories, and buy supplies, tooling and a lot of equipment. Under such conditions you don’t have to worry very much about how to make ends meet.

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

Expertise


Whaereas intelligence is a feature attributable to most people, expertise is a scarcer commodity. This scarcity gives expertise its value and makes attempting to capture expertise worthwhile. The skills needed to process a company’s payroll would not, for example, be considered expertise. Although it may make sense to program this task, the ability to process payroll is not rare. Certain areas of expertise have more practical value than others. For example, expertise in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics may be scarce but is of less practical value than expertise in strategic management or auditing.

 The difficulty in acquiring expertise is what usually contributes to its scarcity. Expertise must be obtained from some source (e.g., an expert). Most companies make use of expertise either by acquiring it temporarily in the form of consultants or by sending a seasoned employee from site to site.

 One of the problem in defining expertise is understanding exactly what knowledge the expert has acquired and how it can be used. Expertise can be the ability to interpet Egyptian hieroglyphics, diagnose certain diseases, or formulate a strategic plan. For computers to perform specific tasks, they must be programmed to stimulate features of expertise. The goal of an expert systems development poject is to understand and embed scarce expertise in the computer program and use it to solve specific problems.

 The first question that must be answered concerns where to find the required expertise. The time spent answering this question, acquiring the relevant knowledge, and then encoding it in a program constitutes the bulk of the development effort.

 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

Customers as Competitors


If self-service customers can be viewed as resources of the firm, or as partial employees, self-service customers could in some cases partially perform the service or perform the entire service for themselves and not need the provider at all. Customers thus in a sense are competitors of the companies that supply the service. Whether to produce a service for themselves (internal exchange)—for example, home maintenance, car repair—or have someone else provide the service for them (external exchange) is a common dilemma for customers.

 Similar internal versus external exchange decisions are made by organizations. Firms frequently choose to outsource service activities such as payroll, data processing, research, accounting, maintenance, and facilities management. They find that it is advantageous to focus on their core businesses and leave these essential support services to others with greater expertise. Alternatively, a firm may decide to stop purchasing services externally and bring the service production process in-house.

 Whether a household or a firm chooses to produce a particular service for itself or contract externally for the service depends on a variety of factors. A proposed model of internal/external exchange suggests that such decisions depend on the following:

a)    Expertise capacity

b)   Resource capacity

c)    Time capacity

d)   Economic rewards

e)    Psychic rewards

f)     Trust

g)    Control

The important thing to remember is that in many service scenaries customers can and do choose to fully or partially produce the service themselves. Thus, in addition to recognizing that customers can be productive resources and co-creators of quality and value, organizations also need to recognize the customer’s role as a potential customer.

 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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