Business

Lean Wednesday Tip: Performance Measures

“When you have insufficient information about a product, process or service, you are unable to control it. Ergo, when a process cannot be controlled, the organization is at the mercy of chance. KPIs must be aligned with the strategic goals of a company as well as with its customers priorities.”

Lean Wednesday Tip: Issuing Section 1244 Stock

“Small C Corporations benefit from issuing Section 1244 Stock as it offers shareholders better tax treatment if they lose money on the disposition of their C corporation stock. It is best to create a written corporate resolution that specifically states that the shares are Section 1244 stock. Also, make sure to authorize more shares than you’ll sell.”

IT Asset Management Checklist

It is important that you are periodically auditing and logging critical IT assets for the purpose of minimizing security, conduct and financial risks. Below I have noted the most important assets that should be properly logged and have auditable documentation.

IT ASSET MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST:

  1. Hardware and Software
    • computer user, UPC, location, model number, et cetera
  2. Network and communications infrastructure, servers and apps
  3. Alarm systems
  4. Telephone circuits
  5. Vendors and Service Providers
  6. Licenses
  7. Purchase and disposal info
  8. Computer and Laptop software upgrades
  9. List of all apps in laptops or computers for each employee including authorization and security information.
  10. Cloud Data backup hardware (e.g.; external USB drive)

By using this checklist the next time you conduct an IT Asset audit you’ll be able to identify vulnerabilities and exploits that were not previously known to you. For example, let’s say your policy states that there should be 10 laptops kept in the supply room at all times but when you conduct an audit you find only 8 and employees have been careless with the laptop request form. The laptops also have not been entered into the tracking system making matters worse as now you have to dig through invoices to identify the two missing laptop model numbers and SKUs.

An IT Asset Policy is not effective if it is not enforced regularly. Employees must be reminded of them everyday and trained periodically.

 

Notable Friday Chat: Fraud Risk Management

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a great week. With that said, I want to leave you with a short message about Fraud Risk Management. Until next week, have a wonderful weekend and remember, “Success is continuous improvement”!

 

“To minimize fraud risk, top management must be committed to a Fraud Risk Management program, implement visual controls and employee guides, have clear reporting procedures and whistle-blower protection, have an efficient investigation process, and most importantly, translate policy into daily activities.”

Preventing Process Failure with FMEA (Failure Modes & Effects Analysis)

FMEA (Failure Modes & Effects Analysis) is a Lean Six Sigma technique for identifying both the ways that a product, part, process or service can fail and the effects of those failures.Once these failure modes are identified, they are rated by the severity of their effects and failure probability. This is critical to the design of any system, process, service or product.

FMEA-Round-1

Sample FMEA GRID

There are 3 types of FMEA’s; system, process and design. However in this post I will only touch upon the Process FMEA. Process FMEA’s identify the different ways that a process could fail and the effects of those failures. They are often used to identify and rank process improvement opportunities. For the lower risk failure modes preventative plans are put in place to ensure minimal impact to productivity, costs, and delivery.

For example, say a Health Tech Startup, creates an app for patient on-boarding with a plethora of functionalities that they consider to be in the “cool factor”. However, this overload of features could overwhelm the user and miss the value curve completely.¬† With an FMEA analysis they would be able to identify the most critical features, risks, and problems with the product before they take it to market, in turn, significantly reducing rework, product, and process costs.

Contact us now to learn more about how to minimize rework costs and identify problems in processes, systems or products before they are used or put into production.

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Lean Wednesday Tip: Customer Focused Process Improvement

 

“Effective Lean organizations study their processes from their customer’s point of view and align their processes to meet their customers’ needs the first time and every time.” – Donna Summers

The Anatomy of an Effective Strategic Plan

What is a strategic plan? In short, “a strategic plan defines the business the organization¬† intends to be in, the kind of organization it wants to be, and the kind of economic and non-economic contribution it will make to its stakeholders, employees, customers and community.”

To create an effective strategic plan an organization’s leaders must first clearly understand their business and what business they really want to be in. They must also conduct and have SWOT Analysis, customer research (including non-customers), economic, government (industry laws and regulations data), and technology (current and forecasting trends) accurate data available.

Once this information is available and carefully analyzed, leaders must discuss their intention to shift strategy with their team. All company departments should be given the opportunity to share ideas and express concerns. After the Voice of Employee has been acquired the strategic plan can begin.

An effective strategic plan is composed of the following:

  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Key Customer Value Factors
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Visual KPI Metrics
  • Contingency and Preventative Plans

To be effective, a strategic plan must be visual and are not meant to be paper documents that sit on shelves nor Word or PowerPoint documents that are only seen once. The CEO (top management) must also gain support from respected and persuasive key personnel that will drive buy-in to the new strategic plan and discourage opposition. Effective leaders align the strategic plan with daily business activities by translating what needs to be accomplished into how it will be accomplished. They give each department clear responsibilities and performance expectations instead of sending out a memo company-wide that this year they want to increase revenue by $10 million. In short, strategic goals are distributed in small batches.

Effective leaders ensure employees are given clear responsibilities and performance expectations; and are given timely rewards for achieving goals. They also ensure that the strategic plan contains clear objectives, provides and utilizes measures of performance, clear due dates and is visual.

Paid Tier Subscriptions based on consumer cooking levels can drive growth for Cooking Delivery Services

Cooking delivery services offer customers the convenience and adventure of trying new meals right at home. However, the offerings are very similar amongst all mayor players like Blue Apron, Plated and Marley Spoon. Fresh packaged ingredients, serving plans and delicious recipes is the main offering package. Blue Apron offers a wine subscription delivery plan and suggests wine per a customer’s meal choice which optimizes its value to customers.

However, there is an under-valued opportunity that I believe will really drive growth for these companies. By developing targeted tier paid subscriptions based on consumer cooking levels, lifestyle (fitness, vegan, et cetera), meal preparation time, dish type and ingredients will help them lure in non-customers and increase revenue.

For example, lets say a cooking delivery service wanted to target people who hate to cook or don’t have time to cook. They could offer a beginner paid subscription based on the consumer cooking capabilities with easy to follow educational video instructions, meal prep time categories, dish types, and lifestyle categories with upgrade options to intermediate, advanced and expert level cooking subscriptions. They could further optimize this by partnering with grocery stores and integrating a rewards system for users who complete and learn cooking skills (badges, coupons, et cetera).

This example demonstrates how understanding the non-customer can help companies realize common value factors between current customers and non-customers. By personalizing the cooking offering customers would be able to choose their preferred prep time, dish type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, et cetera) and lifestyle category, in turn, increasing overall satisfaction and value to the consumer.

Notable Bookkeeping Friday Chat: Voice of the Customer

 

“Companies that listen to their customers will achieve higher retention rates than their competitors. The Voice of the customer can be acquired through surveys, social media, forums, et cetera. For better customer satisfaction, Listen to them!”

The Know Your Customer Technique for Business Growth

I have written blog posts about utilizing the Voice of the Customer (meaning using surveys, forums, social media, and focus groups) to gather and analyze data for the purpose of identifying revenue opportunities and increasing overall client satisfaction.

Customer-centric companies build emotional relationships with their customers and listen to them. They search for the pain points the customers are having by using their product or service. When they identify these pain points they are able to develop products, services, or solutions to eliminate them.

For example, say a cooking delivery service wants to differentiate itself from its competitors by taking a Know Your Customer approach and utilizing the Voice of the Customer to glean insights into critical customer pain points. In doing so, they realize that customers would pay for prepared healthy lunch meals that are similar to the to the meal options available to them near their workplace. By personalizing lunch meals based on local information, user preferences, and proper packaging for ease of travel the cooking delivery service was able to take advantage of an under-valued market opportunity and drive revenue.

In this example, the cooking delivery service decided to realize revenue opportunities by shifting its buyer focus. It decided to target non-customers that don’t really like to cook but want delicious prepared lunch meals that are similar to the ones they buy at work. Companies that continuously drive growth know the importance of understanding their current customers but also the customers that hate them and non-customers. They are driven by the pain points of these customers so that they can take advantage of first-to-market opportunities to develop solutions to these pain points.

The Know Your Customer approach is not something that can be outsourced. It is implored that you see and talk to customers yourself because that is the best way to truly understand how they are and are not using your product or service. It also offers the opportunity to realize new ways to offer value to your customers and non-customers.