Monday, December 3, 2007

Management reporting in the developing countries

In the developing countries, the usages of computerized database management software are increasing in every day corporate life. More and more companies are trying to manage their data electronically. MRP, MRP II, ERP, etc… are the buzzword in the corporate circle of the developing countries. With the introduction of these applications, the amount of information available for analysis is growing exponentially but what is not growing is the style of reporting and we are still using the old “static” style of reporting i.e. somebody (typically an IT person) develop the reports and these reports are presented to the top management for review and decision making. Even if the reporting is available “online” the kind of reports available still depends on the capability of your technical staff. So if he/she e.g. understands marketing then he/she can give something which can be close to what the marketing team is expecting and if he/she does not understand marketing then… good luck!

What is missing is that the functional departments like Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, etc… are keeping the reporting at a safe distance. They don’t want to involve themselves in reporting as they think it’s not their job and someone in the IT department should be doing this. But they should realize that it’s their data and they are the one who should have the first right to dice and slice the information. Now days the reporting software are so user friendly that you don’t even have to acquire formal training to use them and there is so much help available on the internet in the form of articles, tutorials and forums that you can even surprise your own IT department (because these are the sources from which they are getting the information). Of course you would need the support from the top management otherwise all your efforts could go in vain. The top management should also realize that they need to arm their front line resources with the tools to support proactive decision making.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Going through your resignation notice

Most of us come to this stage during their career where they are serving the notice period. The notice period duration tends to vary starting from 0 days to 30 days (in some case it even exceeds 30 days). If you are serving a standard thirty day notice then it can be divided into two major parts.

a. One where you are handing over your tasks;
b. And second where you are looking forward to your new job

The first part can be very busy depending upon the responsibilities or projects that you have with you at time it means spending late hours in the office to hand over your duties and the second part… well it can be very irritating.

Because you have already assigned your tasks to someone else and now you have nothing to do. Higher management will not involve you in key decisions and projects; your initiative fuel tank is almost empty. This is the time where you realize how long a single day in the office can be. Here you cannot leave the office because the management wants you to be there as “some” important tasks may require your input. In some cases even the charming internet browsing does have the same zest.

If you are serving a notice period for a week or two then you will be very lucky to avoid the second part of the notice period.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hiring relatives… the downside for the HR

When it comes to hiring relatives, there are a lot of advantages e.g. you don’t need to do extensive background and security checks, you get a person who already knows about your company and is mentally ready to accept the challenge. These people also get trained quickly because they are getting the best training from their relative who has already spent 2-3 or more years in that job.

But there are certain arguments which suggest that hiring relatives is not a good option:

1. People tend to cover the mistakes made by their relatives during the job. So you might see a situation where the deficiencies in resources are exposed when his/her relative go on a long leave.

2. If one resource is under performing then you are not in a position to launch the firing orders.

3. If there is an off the job disagreement between the relatives then that will adversely affect their on job relationships.

4. Often when a relative is leaving the company he/she has the magical influence to take the other resource with him/her.

So the option is yours!

Monday, October 29, 2007

“IT” is all about empowerment for SME

The word IT can be defined as "the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware (ITAA)” and now days the word IT is being replaced with ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

Whenever you heard these words you start thinking high tech people with lots of gadgets up their sleeves. In a typical SME (small and medium enterprise) environment these people are untouchable. They have the financial backing even in tough economic situations and total management support. They always suggest state of the art software and hardware which in their perspective will improve the business processes and will add value towards higher customer satisfaction.

The downside is that other “non IT” staff will start resisting any implementation suggested by the IT department. Even If does add some value they will start thinking that it’s not in their best of interest, and add the fear of loosing your job to a machine, it certainly blocks the improvements which can come due to presence of a proper information system.

How can we avoid this… simple! Empower your employee.

How… well this is a bit tricky question and will depend from situation to situation. In some SME you don’t even need a full fledge information system if we just train the staff to start “using” the applications they are already working with. Just to quote a personal example, in my company (dealing with accounting) there is extensive use of Microsoft Excel and the main stream resources that we have are all accountants and they use Microsoft Excel more than 60-70% of the time.

Now if we propose a new accounting system with all the management backing they will still revert back to Microsoft Excel in one way or the other. The best option here is to train the resources how to effectively use Microsoft Excel. One can really add value to this training by starting with Lean thinking and then training resources in MS Excel and asking them to apply and eliminate any waste which they see in their current workings.

I have seen companies having high tech applications but there staff still prefer to use the simple spread sheet application which they learnt 5 years back.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Be there when it really matters!

As a Leader/Manager you are expected to lead from the front. And it’s very much true about your arrival or departure time in the office. One can afford slip ups during normal working days. But if you and your team have planned to work on an off day then IT’S ABSOLUTELY vital that you are there with your team. Your team will forgive you for occasional late arrivals and early departures but even the most loyal team will not forgive you if you come late or go early on off days working in the office. Trust me it will put your team off. They will feel like they have been betrayed even though they don’t discuss this publicly or among their peers but deep inside their hearts and minds it will stay like a bomb waiting for the right conditions to explode.

Take care...!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Software Piracy…. It’s all about loosing the worth

Software piracy is very much at the center stage when you visit your nearest CD shop. You can find almost any software by just only spending 50 to 100 rupees. Although the original cost of the software is in thousands, one can get hold of that software in a price where you can only imagine how to CD seller is making profit (considering the cost of material, shipping, shop rent, etc...). But it’s a fact that the software piracy is on the rise and I am not sure wheather the government can take any steps to stop this. Although there have been some raids on shops but still it is yet to put a slight dent on this piracy monster.

There are a lot of disadvantages which have been discussed on different forums but here I would like to mention a slightly an overlooked aspect i.e. you loose the worth of the software when you are using a pirated version. How?

Just do a simple cost and benefit analysis. E.g. If you have purchased a software say MS Office for only Rs. 50 then you only expect (or put some extra effort) to get a return of Rs. 100 or 200 where in fact the software can give you more then that.

This not only happens to individuals but to the companies as well. Even if your company is using is licensed copy the employee using the software still thinks that the software is worth Rs. 50 or 100.

So for me it’s about losing the worth of that software on which the software company has spent millions.

Take care....!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Outsourcing……. Are your customers with you?

Outsourcing has been there since the old days where people used labour from countries with low average income and it worked for them.

According to Wikipedia:
“Outsourcing became part of the business lexicon during the 1980s and refers to the delegation of non-core operations from internal production to an external entity specializing in the management of that operation.”

Nowadays there is a boom in the outsourcing industry and it has become a fashion statement that whenever you are talking about cost saving then you should be considering outsourcing in one way or the other. The apparent advantages are cheap labour, low operational cost, etc…

In terms of the balanced scorecard perspective, outsourcing is now spanning all the four major focus areas Including the financial, customer, business processes and training & development. The impact on these areas has been different. E.g. on the business process and training & development side the impact of outsourcing is more significant as compared to the customer side.

Although there has been call centres operating in the sub-continent and other countries but companies using these facilities are reluctant to tell their customers that the person answering their call is some thousands miles away from them. One reason can be that a common citizen doesn’t want to share his/her information with a person from another country thus there is an implicit barrier already in place while outsourcing customer service operations.

On part of the internal customers, the feeling for outsourcing is mixed. It seems that when the internal customers are taken on board while planning for outsourcing they are more satisfied and they feel more involved in outsourcing. This action can minimize the resistance which is offered by the employees. Even if the resistance is not apparent, in general the employees still don’t like outsourcing.

So it is important to take your customers on board because if customers (either internal or external) see an advantage for themselves there will be more chances of making outsourcing a success.

Happy outsourcing…..!