8 Reasons why you Need to Undertake Technical and Application Assessments

Are your information assets enabling you to operate more cost-effectively or are they just drawing in more risks than you are actually aware of? Obviously, you now need to get a better picture of those assets to see if your IT investments are giving you the benefits you were expecting and to help you identify areas where improvements should be made.

The best way to get the answers to those questions is through technical and application assessments. In this post, we?ll identify 8 good reasons why it is now imperative to undertake such assessments.

1. Address known issues – Perhaps the most common reason that drives companies to undertake a technology/application assessment is to identify the causes of existing issues such as those related to data accessibility, hardware and software scalability, and performance.

2. Cut down liabilities and risks – Unless you know what and where the risks are, there is no way you can implement an appropriate risk mitigation strategy. A technology and application assessment will enable you to thoroughly test and examine your information systems to see where your business-critical areas and points of failure are and subsequently allow you to act on them.

3. Discover emerging risks – Some risks may not yet be as threatening as others. But it would certainly be reassuring to be aware if any exist. That way, you can either nip them in the bud or keep them monitored.

4. Comply with regulations – Regulations like SOX require you to establish adequate internal controls to achieve compliance. Other regulations call for the protection of personally identifiable information. Assessments will help you pinpoint processes that lack controls, identify data that need protection, and areas that don’t meet regulatory requirements. This will enable you to act accordingly and keep your company away from tedious, time-consuming and costly sanctions.

5. Enhance performance – Poor performance is not always caused by an ageing hardware or an overloaded infrastructure. Sometimes, the culprits are: unsuitable configuration settings, inappropriate security policies, or misplaced business logic. A well-executed assessment can provide enough information that would lead to a more cost-effective action plan and help you avoid an expensive but useless purchase.

6. Improve interoperability – Disparate technologies working completely separate from each other may be preventing you from realising the maximum potential of your entire IT ecosystem. If you can examine your IT systems, you may be able to discover ways to make them interoperate and in turn harness untapped capabilities of already existing assets.

7. Ensure alignment of IT with business goals – An important factor in achieving IT governance is the proper alignment of IT with business goals. IT processes need to be assessed regularly to ensure that this alignment continues to exist. If it does not, then necessary adjustments can be made.

8. Provide assurance to customers and investors – Escalating cases of data breaches and identity theft are making customers and investors more conscious with a company?s capability of preserving the confidentiality of sensitive information. By conducting regular assessments, you can show your customers and investors concrete steps for keeping sensitive information confidential.

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What Kanban can do for Call Centre Response Times

When a Toyota industrial engineer named Taiichi Ohno was investigating ways to optimise production material stocks in 1953, it struck him that supermarkets already had the key. Their customers purchased food and groceries on a just-in-time basis, because they trusted continuity of supply. This enabled stores to predict demand, and ensure their suppliers kept the shelves full.

The Kanban system that Taiichi Ohno implemented included a labelling system. His Kanban tickets recorded details of the factory order, the delivery destination, and the process intended for the materials. Since then, Ohno?s system has helped in many other applications, especially where customer demand may be unpredictable.

Optimising Workflow in Call Centres
Optimising workflow in call centres involves aiming to have an agent pick up an incoming call within a few rings and deal with it effectively. Were this to be the case we would truly have a just-in-time business, in which operators arrived and left their stations according to customer demand. For this to be possible, we would need to standardise performance across the call centre team. Moving optimistically in that direction we would should do these three things:

  • Make our call centre operation nimble
  • Reduce the average time to handle calls
  • Decide an average time to answer callers

When we have done that, we are in a position to apply these norms to fluctuating call frequencies, and introduce ?kanbanned? call centre operators.

Making Call Centre Operations Nimble
The best place to start is to ask the operators and support staff what they think. Back in the 1960?s Robert Townsend of Avis Cars famously said, ?ask the people ? they know where the wheels are squeaking? and that is as true as ever.

  1. Begin by asking technical support about downtime frequencies, duration, and causes. Given the cost of labour and frustrated callers, we should have the fastest and most reliable telecoms and computer equipment we can find.
  1. Then invest in training and retraining operators, and making sure the pop-up screens are valuable, valid, and useful. They cannot do their job without this information, and it must be at least as tech-savvy as their average callers are.
  1. Finally, spruce up the call centre with more than a lick of paint to awaken a sense of enthusiasm and pride. Find time for occasional team builds and fun during breaks. Tele-operators have a difficult job. Make theirs fun!

Reducing Average Time to Handle Calls
Average length of contact is probably our most important metric. We should beware of shortening this at the cost of quality of interaction. To calculate it, use this formula:

Total Work Time + Total Hold Time + Total Post Call Time

Divided By

Total Calls Handled in that Period

Share recordings of great calls that highlight how your best operators work. Encourage role-play during training sessions so people learn by doing. Publish your average call-handling time statistics. Encourage individual operators to track how they are doing against these numbers. Make sure your customer information is up to date. While they must confirm core data, limit this so your operators can get down to their job sooner.

Decide a Target Time to Answer Calls
You should know what is possible in a matter of a few weeks. Do not attempt to go too tight on this one. It is better to build in say 10% slack that you can always trim in future. Once you have decided this, you can implement your Kanban system.

Introducing Kanban in Your Call Centre Operation
Monitor your rate of incoming calls through your contact centre, and adjust your operator-demand metric on an ongoing basis. Use this to calculate your over / under demand factor. Every operator should know the value on this Kanban ticket. It will tell them whether to speed up a little, or slow down a bit so they deliver the effort the call rate demands. It will also advise the supervisor when to call up reserves.

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Month End Accounting the way it should Be Today

Month end accounting has always been a business critical exercise. Without the balance sheet, income statement, and other financial reports this exercise ultimately produces, management could not make informed decisions to keep the company in the right direction and at the ideal operational speed.

Now, in order to maintain optimal business velocity, month end activities have to be carried out as swiftly and as accurately as possible. Delays will only inhibit managers from reacting and effecting necessary adjustments in time. Inaccurate information, on the other hand, obviously lead to bad decisions.

But that’s not all. Never has the month end close been as demanding as it is today. Regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Solvency II, Dodd-Frank Act, and others, which call for more stringent controls and more robust risk management practices, are now forcing companies to find better ways to face the end of the month.

Sticking to old month-end practices while striving to achieve regulation compliance can either cost a company more (if they add manpower) or simply bog it down (if they don’t). Among the worst of these practices is the use of spreadsheets.

These User Developed Applications (UDAs) are very susceptible to errors. (See spreadsheet risks)

What’s more, consolidating data from spreadsheets as well as carrying out reconciliations on them is very time consuming. These activities usually require data from outside sources – i.e. a workstation in a different department, building, or (in the case of really large corporations) geographical locations.

Furthermore, if one of these sources fail, the financial reports won’t be complete. This is not a far-fetched scenario, considering that spreadsheet storage and backup is typically carried out by the average end user. This leaves the spreadsheet data vulnerable to hard disk crashes, virus attacks, and unexpected disasters.

Thus, in order to produce accurate financial reports on time all the time, you need a financial/IT solution that offers optimal provisions for risk management, collaboration, backup, and business continuity. Learn about server-based solutions and discover a better way to carry out month end accounting.

Choosing Routes for ESOS Compliance

Along the introduction of Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme in UK is the quick emergence of various companies that offer ESOS compliant services. While some energy audit providers can help, qualified businesses should understand what their compliance options are, how these routes work and learn both the pros and cons in order to carefully take their pick.

Independent ISO 50001 Certification

ISO 50001 comprises the integration and application of processes geared to motivate energy saving and overall improvement. Simply stated, it is a framework that drives the organisation’s governance to realise energy saving strategies by allocating resources and participating in energy management. The good thing about ISO 50001 is that it includes an energy review that documents ideas and opportunities to save more energy.

However, ISO 50001 does not obligate organisations to cover 90% of their overall energy consumption. In case of partial coverage, the company needs to undergo additional energy assessments to evaluate all the significant energy consumption areas.

In order for an ISO 50001 certification to be valid, it must be certified by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), by an accreditation body which is a member of the International Accreditation Forum, or by a body accredited by another EU member state?s national accreditation body.

Display Energy Certificates and Green Deal Assessments

These two kinds of energy assessment reports can also contribute to ESOS compliance. Both of them are carried out by qualified lead assessors and valid for 10 years. However, they are only based on the building structures and services. They do not cover the overall significant areas in energy consumption. Since these reports are valid for 10 years, they would be used for two ESOS reporting periods. Thus, they would not be as current as the ISO 50001 certification. Aside from that, the assessments are purely based on energy efficiency and anyone can qualify to use the software that produce the certifications after taking the accreditation course.

Energy Audits

A successful energy audit leads to better understanding of the company?s energy consumption, identify alternatives, determine cost-effective energy saving opportunities and stimulate energy efficiency. Energy audits are beneficial to the organisation. What makes it complex is that the organisation applying it, needs to clearly define the scope and type of energy audit to use in order to comply with ESOS. Furthermore, the organisation also has to identify the teams that would be competent enough to do the audit work for the building, transport and industrial area, respectively.

Each route is not formed equal. Thus, organisations have the option to either choose one or combine the routes and meet their company needs. The options mentioned are different approaches to ESOS and the core value is to grab the opportunity towards acquiring more savings through efficient energy system.

How Ecovaro Can Help

Ecovaro is passionate about making a difference. We are knowledgeable when it comes to ESOS legislation and regulation, ISO 50001 energy management system, DECs and Green Deal Assessments. More than that, we recognise the great impact of efficient management system to your organisation. And with this, we provide an enthusiastic team of software engineers and expert project managers to offer you our professional help at reasonable price. Ecovaro comes to you fully equipped with services tailored to your organisation’s energy management needs.

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