Shared Services ? Are They A Good Idea

Things happen fast in business and we need to stay on top. It does not seem long ago that some enterprises were still hands-on traders or artisans with a few youngsters to help out. People like that did not do admin and their accounting was a matter of making sure there was enough money in the jar.

When Wal-Mart’s Sam Walton took over his first shop in 1945 things had moved on from there, although he did still deal directly with his customers. When he died his legacy was 380,000 jobs, and a business larger than most economies. So there?s plenty we can learn from how he grew his business.

One of Sam?s secrets was his capacity to centralise what needed gathering together, while empowering store managers to think independently when it came to local conditions. His regional warehouses had individual outlets clustered around them within one day?s drive each. This shared service eliminated 90% of safety stock and released capital for expansion.

Wal-Mart took sharing services a step further in February 2006, when it centralised accounts payable, accounts receivable, general accounting and human resources administration at Wal-Mart Stores and Sam?s Clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The objective was to bring costs down, while allowing local managers more time to focus on their business plans and other initiatives. As a further spin-off, Wal-Mart was able to integrate its data on a single SAP platform and eliminate significant roadblocks.

This is an excellent example of sharing services by creating own centres of excellence.? Of course, this is not the only business possibility. Other corporates have successfully completely outsourced their support activities, and Wal-Mart has no doubt had a variety of similar offers too. But, is the Wal-Mart picture entirely rosy, or is there a catch?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants has indicated that top talent may be the loser globally. This is because the Wal-Mart model removes many challenges through standardisation, and offers less scope for internal promotion as a result. Language and cultural differences may also have a long-term detrimental effect on the way the departments work well together.

Local outsourcing ? this is the business model where several firms engage a shared service provider independently- may hence prove to be a more malleable option for smaller companies. It often makes more sense to hunt down made-to-order services. Offerings such as the professional support we offer on this site.

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A Small External Enterprise Development Team is Cheaper than Your Own

Time is money in the application development business. We have to get to market sooner so someone else does not gazump us, and pip us at the post. We increase the likelihood of this with every delay. Moreover, the longer your in-house team takes to get you through the swamp, the higher the project cost to you.

Of course, in theory this should not be the case. Why bring in a team from outside, and pay more to support their corporate structure? Even going for a contract micro team ought not to make financial sense, because we have to fund their mark-up and their profit taking. Our common sense tells us that this is crazy. But, hold that thought for a minute. What would you say if a small external enterprise development team was actually cheaper? To achieve that, they would have to work faster too.

The costs of an Enterprise Internal Development Team

Even if you were able to keep your own team fully occupied ? which is unlikely in the long term ? having your own digital talent pool works out expensive when you factor in the total cost. Your difficulties begin with the hiring process, especially if you do not fully understand the project topic, and have to subcontract the hiring task.

If you decide to attempt this yourself, your learning curve could push out the project completion date. Whichever way you decide to go, you are up for paying advertising, orientation training, technical upskilling, travel expenses, and salaries all of which are going to rob your time. Moreover, a wrong recruitment decision would cost three times the new employee?s annual salary, and there is no sign of that changing.

But that is not all, not all by far. If want your in-house team to keep their work files in the office, then you are going to have to buy them laptops, plus extra screens so they can keep track of what they are doing. Those laptops are going to need desks, and those employees, chairs to sit in. Plus, you are going to need expensive workspace with good security for your team?s base.

If we really wanted to lay it on, we would add software / cloud costs, telephony, internet access, and ongoing technical training to the growing pile. We did a quick scan on PayScale. The median salary of a computer programmer in Ireland is ?38,000 per year and that is just the beginning. If you need a program manager for your computer software, their salary will be almost double that at ?65,000 annually.

Advantages of R&D outsourcing

The case for a small externally sourced enterprise development team revolves around the opportunity cost ? or loss to put in bluntly ? of hiring your own specialist staff for projects. If you own a smaller business with up to 100 people, you are going to have to find work for idle digital fingers, after you roll out your in-house enterprise project. If you do not, you head down the road towards owning a dysfunctional team lacking a core, shared objective to drive them forward.

Compared to this potential extravagance, hiring a small external enterprise development team on an as-needed basis makes far more sense. Using a good service provider as a ?convenience store? drives enterprise development costs down through the floor, relative to having your own permanent team. Moreover, the major savings that arise are in your hands and free to deploy as opportunities arise. A successful business is quick and nimble, with cash flow on tap for R & D.

How to carry out an Operational Review

A mobile workforce management software is key to managing an efficient field workforce.? Managing a staff of people can be tricky in any industry. Try keeping track of employees on shifting jobsites, many whom are paid hourly or temporary workers. The added pressure of ensuring the right workers get to the right sites at the right times, but they also need to track hours, parts used, vehicles and equipment assets.

In a previous post, we defined what is an operational review and why they play a key process in the continual evolution of successful businesses.?

Operational reviews allow the organization members to evaluate their performance, according to the procedures, resources properly, timescales and budgets.

Denizon – Operational Reviews Defined

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In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how to implement an operational review and the steps typically undertaken to help you and your organisation to implement an operational review.

What the steps in a Operational Review Process

There are typically six steps in an operational review that range from preparatory work conducting interviews and collecting documents to the presentation of the final written report.

An audit should be customized to meet a organisatons specific needs, so standard steps can and should only serve as a guideline.? Management and internal and external auditors should adjust the process to address the company’s particular goals and objectives.

Initial Management Meeting

Understanding the problem is the first crucial step of an operational review. This is one of major areas of discussions when the audit team meets with the management, and department heads will be asked to identify any specific areas of concern. Once the problem is identified, it would be easier to come up with workable solutions.

Conduct Interviews

The next step in the evaluation is carried out with experienced teams doing interviews and keeping close observation. Each team essentially watches how employees carry out their responsibilities. This is considered a key part of the process.

When doing the interview, it is also vital that the observing team gains the employees? trust and confidence. Likewise, the staff must be assured that whatever transpires between the team and the employee will be kept confidential. Management must therefore guarantee anonymity to anyone who offers critical information, lest employees withhold vital information and render the data gathered inaccurate.

Systems Review

Employees and management practices will be reviewed by the assessing team according to the standard policies and guidelines of the company. The effectiveness of the controls in place as well as their appropriateness to the current operating conditions will also be evaluated.

Reporting

A documentation of the data gathered and the assessment of the evaluating team, will be submitted to the management after the review process. Flow charts and written narratives of departmental activities are usually part of this report. This is also where observations and recommendations of the team will be presented to the department heads concerned.

Review Results

While the operational review is being conducted, it is important to take into account the vital factors that affect the company: the people, processes, procedures, and strategies. These four factors can determine the company?s progress in the future.

Key Areas of focus in operation reviews

At a minimum an operational review should include the following key ares of assessment

Management Control

Responsibilities, authority, and the scope in which an employee has the freedom to act must be clearly defined and documented. A complete and specific job description for instance, would give the employee a clear perspective on how he acts and functions within the company.

Boundaries should be set not only to benefit the employer but more so the employee as well.

Moral and Ethical Guidelines

Moral and ethical guidelines are just as important to ensure for a smoother employer?employee relationship. Otherwise, personal issues such as work ethics, work attitude and personal values may post problems in the long run if such guidelines are not drawn properly before relationships are established.

Processes and procedures

Evaluating processes is only beneficial if the company itself updates its processes and procedural manuals regularly, or at least when needed. Such protocols may need revision and some steps may be obsolete already. Improving a company?s processes and procedures doesn’t always entail cost. In fact, improvised procedures may even be cost-effective and could make the processes more manageable.

Communication and reporting standards

Gaps in communication could result in serious lapses in internal controls, putting the company and/or its assets at risk. This is where the importance of timely and clear communication comes in. Likewise, reports must be useful, and the flow of information and how it is processed must keep pace with the company?s growth.

Information technology (IT) and security controls can also be included under the communication clause. Proper IT security policies must be in place, state-of-the-art protection techniques employed, and everything be documented, periodically updated, and continually monitored.

Strategic planning and tactics

No company can ever be complete without its strategies. It would unwise for any organization to proceed without first knowing where it stands and what direction it wants to take. Strategic planning draws such a map. It must be aligned to the mission and vision of the company, and should also coincide with the organizational goals set. Strategic planning deals with these three key questions:

  • What do we do now
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • How can we overcome competition

Without clear strategic direction, expectations would likely differ between ownership and management.

Contingency planning, testing and recovery

Contingency plans must be up-to-date, and are essential to the organization. If one course of action fails, the company should have plan B, C and so on. In addition, an organization should be prepared to respond to interference’s.

This includes establishing a formal process to review transactions processing during both disruption and recovery.

Presentation of Report

Based on your objectives and our findings, we will develop detailed recommendations to improve your company?s performance and productivity. Our written report will include a list of both short-term and long-term projected improvements and courses of action, to be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

To ensure the achievement of the improvements we outlined, our team will also assist in the implementation of these modifications.

The plan has three levels of recommendations: one for executives, another for management, and a third one for staff.

The executive summary concentrates on your company?s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to its entirety. It includes recommendations for any needed changes in policy or governance.

The management plan is based on employee feedback and includes areas of immediate improvement as well as identification of potential problem areas. Concerns from the bottom level management can now be forwarded to the top level management in formal writing. Better working relationships may evolve from this, thereby setting the work environment for a higher productivity ratio.

Lastly, the staff report deals with topics like charting the hierarchy of the organization, and discussing in detail specific control objectives that are critical to the company?s mission. Part of our goal is to encourage personnel to pay close attentions to such changes, if any, as these efforts are essential if they want to bring about both organizational and personal success.

If you would like to further discuss how our operational review services can benefit your company, please feel free to contact us at your convenience to schedule an initial consultation. We?ll be more than happy to assist you.

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Carrying out an Operational Review


Operational Reviews


Operational Efficiency Initiatives


Operational Review Defined

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Operational Efficiency Initiatives

When was the last time you checked your technology spending against your IT infrastructure’s contribution to the bottom line?

Chances are, what’s happening underneath all those automated processes, expensive hardware, and fancy graphical user interfaces is not doing your bottom line any good.

If you don’t keep a watchful eye, your IT operations can easily nurture a lot of wastage and unnecessary costs. Underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths, and too much complexity are among the common culprits.

For minor problems, we can eliminate wastage by setting up some technology enhancements, instilling best practices, and performing a few tweaks. However, if you’re not adequately trained on how to go about with it, your band-aid solutions can add more complexity to the mix.

Of course, there will always come a time when you will have to spend on new technologies to maintain the overall efficiency of your IT infrastructure. Whether you intend to purchase new hardware or software applications or build an entirely new infrastructure, the sheer cost of such undertakings warrants seeking expert advice.

Failure to do so can result in fragmented resources lacking in cohesiveness, which don’t contribute to efficiency at all.

Our solutions for improving operational efficiencies cover the entire spectrum: from planning what to buy, optimising what you’ve already bought, to making your team comfortable with them all. Please find time to view our solutions below and uncover ways to drive those profits up even as you work within your budget.

 

More Operational Review Blogs

 

Carrying out an Operational Review

 

Operational Reviews

 

Operational Efficiency Initiatives

 

Operational Review Defined

 

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