Financial supply chain has to cope with the physical one
October, 18th 2007
Credit the reader.
Ask company treasurers about the performance of their working capital processes, and in most cases their answer may be, Sub-optimal.
Working capital management is often fraught with inefficiencies that cut across multiple subsidiaries, departments and financial institutions, writes Sanjay Dalmia in Financial Supply Chain (www.tatamcgrawhill.com). For instance, the order to cash position consumes significant time and resources 30 days is typically a minimum, while 120 days is common if there is a dispute.
To help achieve end-to-end automation there are collaborative offerings such as BOLERO (Bill Of Lading Electronic Registry Organisation), SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Funds Transfer) and TWIST (Transaction Workflow Innovation Standards Team).
The author explains how a key problem collaborative solutions face is that of consensus on standard definition, considering the wide variety of industry practices for even routines activities such as invoicing, and multiple activities involved in a trade transaction, for example, acceptance, goods receipt, returns, etc.
Standards are beneficial only if they are adopted by a wide range of market participants. However, the early birds will need to invest and also provide the required R&D and experimentation budgets without corresponding benefits.
Worth adding to the professionals shelf.
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Ethics, not a dirty word
Too many people want to reach a greater level of success in their lives, whether financial or personal, but they never ask themselves why it is they want it, says Justin Herald in Get Motivated (www.vivagroupindia.com).
A 37-year-old successful entrepreneur, Herald, was named one of the 50 most influential leaders of the next generation in Australia. Each year he speaks to over 1,50,000 people throughout the world, informs www.justinherald.com.au. The word that transformed him was attitude, as Gordon Clark writes in a September 12 article on www.thedaily.com.au.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the title of a chapter in Heralds book is, Attitude is everything. If your results are constantly negative or bad, before you go ahead and blame others, just check your attitude towards what you are doing, he advises.
Ethics is not a dirty word, is the title of the preceding chapter. There are a few things in business that seem to be disappearing these days, and I have to say that being ethical is one of those things, rues Herald. We all need to stand up for what we believe in, no matter what the cost. There are too many people out there who continually change to fit in with the beliefs and operating structures of others This is a recipe for failure. If you dont stand for something, you will fall for anything, he adds, citing his fathers counsel. This is so true, especially within the business world.
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Finance in franchising
Aspiring franchisees should first study their finances, instructs Iain Maitland in Franchising (www.jaicobooks.com). You must be certain that the potential costs of franchising are financially manageable and the returns will be worthwhile.
The author suggests that pilot schemes, launched and operated for about a year, can help you test and adjust the format for franchising. Include in your computations the costs of experimenting as well, such as, varying dcor and the layout of customers sales space, changing packaging and point of sale material, and increasing or decreasing advertising levels.
Four disadvantages of franchising that Maitland lists are hard work and effort, constant payments, inflexible rules and procedures, and mutual dependence. Hard work is not only about long hours but financial sacrifices as well.
Initial profits will grow slowly, usually taking three years or more to provide a full return on your investment (and be extremely wary of any franchisor who promises instant riches).
Constant payments usually take the form of regular royalty outflows to the franchisor, who invariably pressures the franchisee to improve takings. You could be forced under the terms of the franchise to participate in commercial activities such as advertising and promotional campaigns which increase sales but not profits (because any profits generated by such actions are cancelled out by the extra costs incurred).
Inflexibility may be evident all through the operation, and also when you want to sell out your business as a going concern. Dont be shocked if the franchisor vets the proposal and rejects your potential buyer as an unsuitable franchisee! It could take months or years for you to find an acceptable purchaser who will be allowed to take over your concern and join the franchisors network.
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For an environment of trust
How to create a work culture where people at all levels of the organisation can be counted on to keep their commitments and agreements? Mark Samuel offers help in Creating the Accountable Organization (www.phindia.com).
Accountability is the basis for having an environment of trust, support, and dedication to excellence, he writes. With accountability, people can depend on each other and dont have to worry about doing extra work because others failed to keep their agreements.
In contrast, those in organisations lacking a culture of accountability have to work twice as hard to make up for those who arent accountable. This nightmare has to stop, for the sake of all employees and the survival of our business, says Samuel.
His study of more than 1,100 people from 15 industries, across all levels reveals that the first of three top problems in the way of accountability is that of overwhelming and competing priorities. To be accountable, you must clearly know your desired outcomes what you are accountable for achieving. Without that clarity, accountability cannot exist.
The second malaise is territorialism and silos, characterised by blame and finger-pointing. And the third is avoidance meaning that when people werent blaming each other for problems, they were avoiding them completely.