Transformation to a process based organisation

Today’s global marketplace rewards nimble organisations that learn and reinvent themselves faster than their competition. Employees at all levels of these organisations see themselves as members of teams responsible for specific business processes, with performance measures tied to the success of the enterprise. As team members, they are “owners” of the process (or processes) to which they are assigned. They are responsible for both the day to day functioning of their process(s), and also for continuously seeking sustainable process improvements.

Transforming a traditionally designed “top down control” enterprise to a process-based organisation built around empowered teams actively engaged in business process re-engineering (BPR) has proven more difficult than many corporate leaders have expected. Poorly planned transformation efforts have resulted in both serious impacts to the bottom line, and even more serious damage to the organisation’s fabric of trust and confidence in leadership.

Tomislav Hernaus, in a publication titled “Generic Process Transformation Model: Transition to Process-based Organisation” has presented an overview of existing approaches to organisational transformation. From the sources reviewed, Heraus has synthesised a set of steps that collectively represent a framework for planning a successful organisational change effort. Key elements identified by Hernaus include:

Strategic Analysis:

The essential first step in any transformation effort must be development of a clear and practical vision of a future organisation that will be able to profitably compete under anticipated market conditions. That vision must be expected to flex and adjust as understanding of future market conditions change, but it must always be stated in terms that all organisational members can understand.

Identifying Core Business Processes:

With the strategic vision for the organisation in mind, the next step is to define the core business processes necessary for the future organisation to function. These processes may exist across the legacy organisation’s organisational structures.

Designing around Core Processes:

The next step is development of a schematic representation of the “end state” company, organised around the Core Business Processes defined in the previous step.

Transitional Organisational Forms/ Developing Support Systems:

In his transformation model, Hernaus recognises that information management systems designed for the legacy organisation may not be able to meet the needs of the process management teams in the new organisation. Interim management structures (that can function with currently available IT system outputs) may be required to allow IT professionals time to redesign the organisation’s information management system to be flexible enough to meet changing team needs.

Creating Awareness, Understanding, and Acceptance of the Process-based Organisation:

Starting immediately after the completion of the Strategic Analysis process described above, management must devote sufficient resources to assure that all organisation members, especially key managers, have a full understanding of how a process-based organisation functions. In addition, data based process management skills need to be provided to future process team members. It is not enough to schedule communication and training activities, and check them off the list as they are completed. It is critical that management set behavioural criteria for communication and training efforts that allow objective evaluation of the results of these efforts. Management must commit to continuing essential communication and training efforts until success criteria are achieved. During this effort, it may be determined that some members of the organisation are unlikely to ever accept the new roles they will be required to assume in a process-based organization. Replacement of these individuals should be seen as both an organisational necessity and a kindness to the employees affected.

Implementation of Process Teams:

After the completion of required training AND the completion of required IT system changes, process teams can be formally rolled out in a planned sequence. Providing new teams with part time support by qualified facilitators during the firsts weeks after start-up can pay valuable long term dividends.

Team Skill Development and Continuous Process Improvement:

Providing resources for on-going skill development and for providing timely and meaningful recognition of process team successes are two keys for success in a process-based organisation. Qualified individuals with responsibility for providing training and recognition must be clearly identified and provided with sufficient budgetary resources.

The Hernaus model for transformation to a process based organisation is both well thought out and clear. His paper provides an ample resource of references for further study.

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Solutions to Password Overload

If only technologists had their way, passwords and PINs would have long been replaced with more innovative (and admittedly, better) security solutions. But such is not the case. Those alternative solutions, which include biometrics, smart cards, and password fobs, effective as they may be, are just way too expensive to implement.

So although passwords and PINs may not be here to stay, they certainly won’t be going away soon either.

Why keeping passwords in memory is no longer possible

A couple of decades ago, it would have been nearly impossible to crack an eight-character password using brute force. Today, however, advancements in computing power are rendering the typical passwords of the past easily decipherable, forcing us to come up with passwords that are not only much longer, but also much more complex and hence difficult to recall.

For instance, memorable words like your favourite character (e.g. ‘skywalker’) may have been acceptable then, but not anymore. Today?s security systems will encourage you to insert numbers or even other keyboard characters as a means to once again counter brute force. Hence, ‘sk5%ywa936lker@#’ may be more acceptable.

Remembering that one alone can be pretty daunting.

To further complicate matters, the number of applications that require passwords for access is much greater than before even for a single end user. Ordinary end users have to keep track of passwords for their email account, network login, workstation login, online services, and so on.

The burden is even greater for your IT admins, who have to remember a larger collection of passwords that protect business critical systems and applications. Clearly, the team in charge of your IT security will need a way to manage all these passwords.

Password management solutions

Existing password management solutions typically come in the form of software applications that store passwords. Basically, all you need to remember are your login details for the app a.k.a. the ?master password?. Once you’ve gained access inside, you can then retrieve any password you stored there.

Some of these apps are installed in portable devices like Pocket PCs, PDAs, or smartphones, which you would normally take along with you. For as long as the device stays with you, your passwords will be in safe hands. What’s more, you can retrieve them anywhere you go.

But obviously, there’s a problem. What if the device gets misplaced or stolen? Although the person who ends up with your device may not be able to gain access into the app and your passwords, neither will you. A better solution would therefore be an app that can be accessed anywhere but is not susceptible to getting lost.

Web-based password manager

A web-based password manager fits the bill. You don’t have to take it with you, but still you can access it almost anywhere. A typical web-based password manager will have all your passwords stored in a centralised, highly secure location.

If you want, you can even use your mobile password manager along with the web-based one. Ideally, your web-based password manager would have a copy of all the end-user passwords as well as the master passwords of your organisation.

With an easy to access but highly-secure web-based password manager, you no longer have to come up with passwords that (ironically) are supposed to be easy to remember but hard to crack at the the same time.

Furthermore, password managers are ideal for keeping passwords that have to be changed every-now-and-then; a requirement that’s becoming all too common in organisations bent on enforcing more stringent controls.

Operational Reviews

IT OPERATIONAL REVIEWS DEFINED
An IT operational review is an in-depth and objective review of an entire organisation or a specific segment of that organisation. It can be used to identify and address existing concerns within your company such as communication issues between departments, problems with customer relations, operating procedures, lack of profitability issues, and other factors that affect the stability of the business.
Operational reviews allow the organisation members to evaluate how well they are performing, given that they perform appropriately according to the procedures set by them, allocating their resources properly, and performing such tasks within time frame set and using cost-effective measures. More importantly, it also shows your company how well it is prepared to meet future challenges.
Simply put, the goals of an operational review are to increase revenue, improve market share, and reduce cost.

THE BENEFITS OF AN IT OPERATIONAL REVIEW
The main objective of IT operational reviews is to help organisations like yours learn how to deal with and address issues, instead of simply reacting to the challenges brought about by growth and change.
In such review, the information provided is practical from both a financial and operational perspective. Using these data, the management can then come up with recommendations, which are not only realistic, but more importantly, can help the organisation achieve its goals. The review recognises the extent to which your internal controls actually work, and enables you to identify and understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

To be more specific, let’s list down the ways wherein an effective operational review can contribute to the success of the organisation.

The review process can:
– assess compliance within your own organisational objectives, policies and procedures;
– evaluate specific company operations independently and objectively;
– give an impartial assessment regarding the effectiveness of an organisation’s control systems;
– identify the appropriate standards for quantifying achievement of organisational objectives;
– evaluate the reliability and value of the company?s management data and reports;
– pinpoint problem areas and their underlying causes;
– give rise to opportunities that may increase profit, augment revenue, and reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the product or service.
Thus, each operational review conducted is unique, and can be holistic or specific to the activities of one department.

Our Operational Efficiencies cover the entire spectrum:

  • What to buy
  • Optimising what you’ve already bought e.g. underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths
  • Making your team comfortable with the changes
  • Instilling Best Practices

UNCOVER WAYS TO DRIVE YOUR PROFITS UP, THROUGH OPERATIONAL REVIEWS

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How the Dodd-Frank Act affects Investment Banking

The regulatory reform known as the Dodd-Frank Act has been hailed as the most revolutionary, comprehensive financial policy implemented in the United States since the years of the Great Depression. Created to protect consumers and investors, the Dodd-Frank Act is made up of a set of regulations and restrictions overseen by a number of specific government departments. As a result of this continuous scrutiny, banks and financial institutions are now subject to more-stringent accountability and full-disclosure transparency in all transactions.

The Dodd-Frank Act was also created to keep checks and balances on mega-giant financial firms that were considered too big to crash or default. This was especially deemed crucial after the collapse of the powerhouse financial institution Lehman Brothers in 2008. The intended result is to bring an end to the recent rash of bailouts that have plagued the U.S. financial system.

Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act was created to protect consumers from unethical, abusive practices in the financial services industry. In recent years, reports of many of these abuses have centered around unethical lending practices and astronomically-high interest rates from mortgage lenders and banks.

Originally created by Representative Barney Frank, Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Dick Durbin, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, as it is officially called, originated as a response to the problems and financial abuses that had been exposed during the nation’s economic recession, which began to worsen in 2008. The bill was signed into law and enacted by President Obama on July 21, 2010.

Although it may seem complicated, the Dodd-Frank Act can be more easily comprehended if broken down to its most essential points, especially the points that most affect investment banking. Here are some of the component acts within the Dodd-Frank Act that directly involve regulation for investment banks and lending institutions:

* Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC): The FSOC is a committee of nine member departments, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. With the Treasury Secretary as chairman, the FSOC determines whether or not a bank is getting too big. If it is, the Federal Reserve can request that a bank increase its reserve requirement, which is made up of funds in reserve that aren’t being used for business or lending costs. The FSOC also has contingencies for banks in case they become insolvent in any way.

? The Volcker Rule: The Volcker Rule bans banks from investing, owning or trading any funds for their own profit. This includes sponsoring hedge funds, maintaining private equity funds, and any other sort of similar trading or investing. As an exception, banks will still be allowed to do trading under certain conditions, such as currency trading to circulate and offset their own foreign currency holdings. The primary purpose of the Volcker Rule is to prohibit banks from trading for their own financial gain, rather than trading for the benefit of their clients. The Volcker Rule also serves to prohibit banks from putting their own capital in high-risk investments, particularly since the government is guaranteeing all of their deposits. For the next two years, the government has given banks a grace period to restructure their own funding system so as to comply with this rule.

? Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): The CFTC regulates derivative trades and requires them to be made in public. Derivative trades, such as credit default swaps, are regularly transacted among financial institutions, but the new regulation insures that all such trades must now be done under full disclosure.

? Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): The CFPB was created to protect customers and consumers from unscrupulous, unethical business practices by banks and other financial institutions. One way the CFPB works is by providing a toll-free hotline for consumers with questions about mortgage loans and other credit and lending issues. The 24- hour hotline also allows consumers to report any problems they have with specific financial services and institutions.

? Whistle-Blowing Provision: As part of its plan to eradicate corrupt insider trading practices, the Dodd-Frank Act has a proviso allowing anyone with information about these types of violations to come forward. Consumers can report these irregularities directly to the government, and may be eligible to receive a financial reward for doing so.

Critics of the Dodd-Frank Act feel that these regulations are too harsh, and speculate that the enactment of these restrictions will only serve to send more business to European investment banks. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that the Dodd-Frank Act became necessary because of the unscrupulous behaviour of the financial institutions themselves. Although these irregular and ultimately unethical practices resulted in the downfall of some institutions, others survived or were bailed out at the government’s expense.

Because of these factors, there was more than the usual bi-partisan support for the Dodd-Frank Act. As a means of checks and balances, the hope is that the new regulations will make the world of investment banking a safer place for the consumer.

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