Bargaining Power of Suppliers


Increasing prices and reducing the quality of products sold are potential means through which suppliers can exert power over firms competing within an industry. If a firm is unable to recover cost increases through its pricing structure, its profitability is reduced by its suppliers’ actions. A supplier group is powerful when:

  • It is dominated by a few large companies and is more concentrated than the industry to which it sells;
  • Satisfactory substitute products are not available to industry firms;
  • Industry firms are not a significant customer for the supplier group;
  • Suppliers’ goods are critical to buyers’ marketplace success;
  • The effectiveness of suppliers’ products has created high switching costs for industry firms, and
  • Suppliers are a credible threat to integrate forward into the buyers’ industry. Credibility is enhanced when suppliers have substantial resources and provide the industry’s firms with a highly differentiated product.

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.

Determining Training Needs


When a supervisor sees evidence of inadequate job performance, assuming the individual is making a satisfactory effort, attention should be given to raising the worker’s skill level. When a supervisor is confronted with a drop in productivity, it may suggest that skills need to be fine-tuned. Of course it would be related to other factors, too—lack of resources or equipment malfunctions. That’s why it’s imperative to pinpoint the problem precisely.

In addition to the productivity measures, high rejection rate or unusual rate of wastage may indicate a need for employee training. A rise in the number of  accidents reported can also suggest some type of retraining is necessary. Furthermore, the changes that are being imposed on workers as a result of a job redesign or a technological breakthrough demand training.

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.

Effective Market Segmentation


Market segmentation is a means to an end: to identify and profile distinct groups of buyers who differ in their needs, preferences, and responsiveness to an organization’s marketing programs. Effective market segmentation should provide answers to six fundamental buyer-related questions for each market segment:

  1. Who are they?
  2. What do they want to buy?
  3. How do they want to buy?
  4. When do they want to buy?
  5. Where do they want to buy?
  6. Why do they want to buy?

More often than not, the answers should be expressed in a narrative form documented with quantitative and qualitative research.

From a managerial perspective, effective market segmentation means that each segment identified and profiled satisfies four fundamental requirements. Each market segment should be:

  1. Measureable. The size and buying power of market segmentation can be quantitatively determined.
  2. Differentiable. A market segment is distinguishable from other segments and responds differently to different marketing programs.
  3. Accessible. A segment can be effectively reached and served through an economically viable marketing program.
  4. Substantial. A segment should be large enough in terms of sales volume potential to cover the cost of the organization serving it and return a satisfactory profit.

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.

 

Employee Orientation


Employee orientation provides new employees with the basic background information required to perform their jobs satisfactorily, such as information about company rules. Programs may range from brief, informal introductions to lengthy, formal courses.

The HR specialist (or, in smaller firms, the office manager) usually performs the first part of the orientation, by explaining basic matters like working hours and vacations. The person then introduces the new employee to his or her new supervisor. The supervisor continues the orientation by explaining the exact nature of the job, introducing the person to his or her new colleagues, familiarizing the new employee with the workplace, and helping to reduce first day jitters. Orientation typically includes information on employee benefits, personnel policies, the daily routine, company organization and operations, and safety measures and regulation, as well as facilities tour.

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

Realigning the Organization


Organization or reorganization schemes have been proposed ad nauseam as solutions to many business problems. As a general rule, organizational changes, especially those that simply reshuffle the same names into different boxes on the organization chart, don’t improve anything. This does not mean suggesting some new organization approach that is better suited for these turbulent times. However, many organizations are too top-heavy, over-structured, and over-satisfied to be responsive to market needs and too costly to be competitive. The structure and staffing of any organization must be rigorously challenged to ensure it is really geared to accomplish the fundamental objectives of the business in as cost-effective a manner as possible. An honest evaluation of the answers to the following critical questions will provide a good function for action.

a)        Is the organization structured to serve markets or simply to manage functions and sell products? Have priority markets been identified? Does someone have primary responsibility for ensuring that the product/service package is tailored to each target market? Do mechanisms exist to ensure cross-markets? Is there any kind of a market focus in the selling organization?

b)        Are there enough discrete profit centers? Do enough managers feel the burden of full profit responsibility? Is the business unit larger than its most successful smaller competitors? Are there any big cost centers that are not assigned or allocated to someone who has a profit and loss responsibility?

c)        Are there corporate group or division staff redundancies? Do the same titles exist at different levels (e.g., corporate controller, group controller, division controller, plant controller)? If so, does it make sense? Can staff position or groups show how they actively contribute to profit results? If so, do line managers agree that these functions are worth the cost?

d)        Are there too many layers? Are there more than five layers between the business unit manager and first level workers? Are there managers with assignments limited to managing one, two, three or four people? Why? Can any of these activities be combined under one manager? Why not?

e)        Is the ratio of supporters to actual results producers satisfactory? How many people actually make a direct contribution to results (e.g., first-line sales personnel, direct hourly workers, sales order engineering and order entry workers, handlers of incoming materials, and storing and shipping personnel)? How many managers, staff, and support personnel are cheering them on? If there is more than one support person for every two producers, what do they do? How do they contribute to profits?

The questions are not new, but the answers are more important now than ever. Traditional or experience-based answers are probably wrong because conditions have changed so dramatically. Moreover, it is doubtful whether existing management can or will ever come up with the right answers, because they have vested interests and the changes needed are simply too tough for them to swallow. These organization structure questions are not as serious for many small to medium-size companies since they are not as likely to be troubled with highly structured, functionally focused organizations lacking a dedicated market orientation. However, even managers in these companies must constantly fight the natural tendency to become more structured, bureaucratic, and lethargic.

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

Accrual Accounting and Cashflow


Before the end of World War 1 most managers kept track of cash out and cash in. many senior citizen owner-managers still do today. There is an inherent problem in keeping the records that way, however, if the business offers and receives much credit. Doing business on credit displaces the time of the exchange of cash from the exchange of goods and services. Sometimes very little cash comes in during a particular month and very much cash comes in during other months. The same is true of cash out.

Keeping in track of what you pay or get paid for credit transactions causes the monthly reports describing the operations to fluctuate from month to month even though the goods and services flowing in and out of the business may be very much the same. About 1920 the accounting profession began placing emphasis on the accrual method of accounting to overcome this difficulty.

The accrual method portrays the smoothed-out profit as if all the transactions had been for cash and as if the business had purchased only exactly what was needed to make the sale. It is not an accurate portrayal of everything going on in the business, but it is a good approximation of the net effect of those things that affect profit. The problem is that so much emphasis has been placed on the accrual method income statement and balance sheet that the importance of cash has been regulated to virtual obscurity.

Even this result is satisfactory when the reports are describing large businesses with access to external financing through the stock market, commercial paper, and bank loans at the prime interest rate. But companies that do not have access to these external sources of financing have a different problem. For them, the flow of cash through the business means life or death, whether the accrual based profit is great or terrible. When new or small businesses need cash they must turn to the bank, the banker will look to the personal savings and assets of the owner-manager for collateral.

Accountants have not forgotten nor overlooked the importance of cash. They recognize the need for cash in sufficient quantity to keep the business operating. For their purposes, however, they often infer the cash available to the business from the income statements and describe future cash availability with the balance sheets. They, and others, frequently describe it as: cash flow equals net profit after taxes plus depreciation and other noncash expenses, such as amortization.

This statement is incorrect except under some very stringent preconditions that rarely exist in practice for a small business. This statement is an approximation that is valid for large and stable businesses in which changes from year to year are small and the statements from which the cash flow is inferred are annual reports. For a small and new business looking at monthly financial reports this approximation is inadequate. In a small, growing business the net cash flow to the firm’s bank account does not equal the net profit plus depreciation. Profit is not cash nor is it cash flow.

Although this pronouncement may be unconventional, entrepreneurs are realistic. Successful entrepreneurs ask how it really works and then get on with building their business. In the conventional approach the analysts, having inferred cash flow from profit, depreciation, and amortization, stop there, allowing their readers to assume that the resulting cash is in the bank wiating to be spent.

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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