Tag Archives | communication

Data Communication Redundancy

See Also:
Technology Assessment Criteria
How to Respond to an Imminent Disaster Threat
Technology Strategy for Small to Medium Sized Companies
How to Evaluate IT Systems
How do You Know When it is Time to Buy New Software

Data Communication Redundancy

Many businesses today have mission critical communication and data sharing needs. Whether these needs arise from customer or regulatory (e.g. SarbOx) requirements, truly redundant communications and data backup services are vital to the business’ operations and for disaster recovery scenarios. For many businesses, including even very large businesses, data communication redundancy is often the exception rather than the rule. Many attempt to accomplish this by having either alternate providers of in-ground hard-wired copper or fiber connections to their facilities or by having these connections at different entry points or tied to different communication centers.

The problem with this “solution” is that at some point all these underground cables come together in common conduits. Then, they are subject to being damage/cut by above ground activities. As such they are not truly redundant and create an unmitigated risk for those companies.

Disaster Recovery

In addition, from a disaster recovery perspective when communications are lost in this way, the recovery time to restore them can be anywhere from a few hours to many days. For some businesses, the loss of communications ability for even a few minutes can have severely negative economic and customer relations effects.

Achieve True Redundancy

So how does a business achieve true redundancy? There are some technologies that help. For example, microwave and satellite links are redundant to fiber/copper in the ground but they suffer from bandwidth constraints, are not secure or in the case of satellite are very expensive.

Point-to-point Wireless Light Communications (WLC) is the only truly redundant, very secure and cost effective solution for the redundancy, security and disaster recovery needs of businesses today. Furthermore, WLC uses above ground devices to move data at fiber optic speeds and bandwidths through the air.

Communications are critical in businesses. If you are experiencing data redundancy, then there may be other areas of weakness in your company. Click here to download our Internal Analysis whitepaper to create the roadmap for your company’s success!

Data communication redundancy
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Finding The Right Lender

See Also:
Bankers’ Language is Financial Jargon
Categories of Banks
Funding Source Versus Lender
How to Manage Your Banking Relationship
Interest Rate
Is it Time to Find a New Bank?

Finding The Right Lender

During a question and answer portion of a recent speaking engagement, I was asked “How do you find the right lender?” Great question. In establishing a good lender relationship, it is pivotal to find the right lending institution. The starting point in looking for a lending institution is to obtain financial information. A troubled or insolvent financial institution isn’t going to do you much good no matter how carefully you nurture a relationship with one of its lenders.

The next point you need to consider is to deal with officers as high up in the organization as possible. My reasoning is this; upper management tends to have greater job longevity than lower level employees.

The Financial Institution

You need to find the financial institution that is the right size for your company. Many of the small to medium sized lending institutions cater specifically to small businesses, while larger institutions have small business divisions. In lender’s terms, a small business normally means $500,000 to $40,000,000 in annual revenue. These institutions tend to have individuals who are very knowledgeable in small business issues, exactly the type of lender you want and need.

Interview the Lenders

Another thing you should consider is interviewing several lenders to fill your position of “The Right Lender”. Normally, you would not hire the first applicant you interviewed for an executive position, so why select the first lender you speak to? You should require the same relationship of trust and communication with your lender as you have with your physician. Additionally, you should expect the lender to have a great bedside manner!

The emotional and financial component in a relationship between you and your lender makes it one of your most important business decisions. You must be very comfortable with this relationship for it to succeed. Once you have established and nurtured a good relationship with a lender, you can count on a brighter future for your business.

Learn how you can be the best wingman with our free How to be a Wingman guide!

finding the right lender

finding the right lender

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Designing an Internship Program

5 Steps to Designing an Internship Program

Internship programs are a great way for your organization to bring in new talent and fresh ideas with motivated and knowledgeable interns. Many companies offer internship programs for college students. Both the organization and the interns benefit from the value of an internship experience. Establishing successful intern programs involve several key steps that are simple to implement and maintain. Following are five steps to designing an internship program:

1. Planning your Internship Programs

The first step to designing successful intern programs is to plan ahead. Decide on your company’s goals and expectations for your internship programs. Do this by creating an internship job description, establishing intern responsibilities, and planning on internship projects. Setting an internship plan of action will facilitate the accomplishment of both your company’s and your intern’s goals and expectations. As an employer, you should decide on the conditions of your internship program. Establish clear terms for the intern’s work schedule and the internship time frame so that both the organization and the interns are in agreement for how long the internship program will last. In addition, determine whether your internship program will be paid or unpaid. Follow the Fair Labor Standards Act for more information about unpaid internship legal requirements.

2. Internship Program Orientation

Establish internship orientations before your interns start their internship programs. Intern orientations introduce the interns into the company and ease the interns’ transition into the workplace. Company cultures vary across organizations. Internship orientations enhance interns’ awareness of the company culture, introduce your interns to the company and to other employees, and offer an inside look into the workplace environment. It is important for you to clarify in your orientation the internship program policies and procedures and to address the interns’ initial questions or concerns. Interns will work better for you and your company if you offer them insight into decision-making processes and organizational culture. In addition, organizations should develop intern training plans during the intern orientation process to help the interns identify, develop, and learn the skills that will be necessary to excel in the internship program.

3. Intern Supervision and Mentorship

Provide internship program supervision and mentorship throughout the internship experience. Coordinate a designated employee to be the intern programs supervisor. Most interns are new to the workplace environment, so organizations should offer direction and support to maximize interns’ productivity. However, it is also important to offer interns autonomy and responsibilities. If the interns don’t know how to do something, you should instruct them to go and figure it out. The interns will improve their skills and learn to problem solve on their own. Young interns are high on energy and are excited to learn new things. Give the interns meaningful and internship responsibilities and projects with foreseeable deadlines in order to build a sense of task accomplishment and completion. This will motivate the interns to think outside the box and bring fresh, creative ideas into the organization.

Communicate and meet with the interns regularly to review progress and plan ahead. Communication is the key to building trust between the interns and the employers so that the interns can effectively make progress and accomplish tasks. Interns are eager to receive affirmation that you are pleased with their work. Mentor and support the interns to maximize the interns’ potential and to maximize the value of the internship program for both the organization and the intern.

4. Internship Program Problems

Prepare for internship problems or issues ahead of time! Things might go wrong, so it is important for you to create back up plans for urgent issues. Identify problems early and designate someone to get involved to create effective and easy to implement solutions.

For example, if interns are overwhelmed or intimidated by a task or project, offer them the support and guidance to come and talk to you about it. If the interns have any questions or concerns, make it clear that there is always someone in the organization to be their internship supervisor. Internship mistakes are bound to occur during the internship experience. Turn interns’ mistakes into constructive feedback and learning. You don’t want your interns to lose confidence in their abilities or motivation to do things. Learning from mistakes leads to improvement and lays the foundation for future success.

5. Internship Program Mistakes

Avoid these common intern program mistakes:

– Some employers do not communicate, offer feedback, or provide support for the interns. They seem to throw their interns into the deep end and then expect them to figure out a way to survive on their own. Internship communication and mentorship are vital to instilling interns’ dedication to their work. If you do not communicate or offer feedback, how can interns feel confident that they are doing a good job?

– Another intern program mistake is that the organization provides the interns with busy work rather than meaningful internship projects. Do NOT establish internship programs for “cheap labor.” Instead, design internships to bring in new perspectives, ideas, and skill sets to enhance your organization. An effective internship program will have value for both the interns and the organization.

– There are some organizations that push the interns into a corner and segregate them from other employees. If full-time employees do not know the first name of the interns, the interns become demoralized and feel like outcast within the organization. Employers should introduce the interns to other employees and invite them into some meetings so that the interns feel like they belong. When you encourage dedicated interns to be involved and active within the organization, it leads to increased intern productivity and creativity.

Determine which candidates are the right fit for your company by downloading our 5 Guiding Principles For Recruiting a Star-Quality Team.

designing an internship program

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See also:
Recruiting a Winning Team

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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

See Also:
Technology Assessment Criteria
How to evaluate IT systems
Technology Strategy for Small to Medium Sized Companies
How Redundant is Your Data Communications Link?
How to Respond to an Imminent Disaster Threat

Electronic Data Interchange Definition (EDI)

What is electronic data interchange (EDI)? EDI is a standardized format for computer-to-computer communications transmitted via electronic networks. In addition, EDI reduces paperwork and administration relating to information transfers within a company or between companies. It also reduces mistakes and data entry errors.

Using EDI can result in time and cost savings for a business. Electronic data interchange communication can also allow businesses to exchange invoices, purchase orders, and other business documents electronically. EDI documents are also transferred in virtual real-time, leading to faster transaction processing. Furthermore, less paperwork and personnel intervention can reduce administrative costs related to transaction processing.

The American National Standards Institute Accredited Standards Committee X12, or ANSI ASC X12 develop and maintain the technological standards for electronic data interchange.

electronic data interchange

 

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Don’t Tell Your Lender Everything

See Also:
The Relationship with Your Lender
The Dilemma of Financing a Start-up Company
Finding the Right Lender
Every Business has a Funding Source, Few have a Lender
Mezzanine Debt Financing

Don’t Tell Your Lender Everything

I have been talking about communication and developing a relationship with your lender. A reader wrote me, “If I told my lender everything, they would never give me money.” I agree, so I am writing today on what not to tell your lender.

I want to say again, that your lender can be a friend, ally, and consultant. But don’t view the lender as someone with whom you necessarily confide, specifically about things that don’t directly affect the lender’s interest.

Examples Of Lending Decisions Gone Bad

After thinking about what the reader stated to me, I started calling some of my lending associates, and asked them what statement people had told them, that adversely affected their lending decisions.

I talked with Elliott Lewis of Access Capital, who specializes in large home mortgages for borrowers with weak credit. One situation that came right to his mind was a prospect told him “As soon as I get this house refinanced, I am going to file bankruptcy.”

Larry Tyler, a commercial lender with Metro Bank, told me about the man who was up for a loan renewal. The prospect told Larry that his marriage was on the rocks, and his wife was going to take him for everything.

My favorite one is when I asked a prospect about his personal credit, and he told me it was great. Upon review, there was a lien for back child support. If the individual is not going to pay his children, why should I think they would pay me back?

Needless to say, all of these comments stopped the lending process cold.

You must remember, when something bad happens in your business, determine the cause and develop a plan for remedying the situation before talking to your lender. No business or business owner is perfect, so it’s unrealistic for a lender to want to know everything that is happening. But if the lender has information, it will be considered.

We all have committed sins in a corporate sense. The lender is not our priest. Don’t tell your lender everything! Download our three best tools to take your business to the next level (includes cash flow, profitability, and leadership tools). 

don't tell your lender everything

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How to Maintain an Effective Job Schedule

How to Maintain an Effective Job Schedule

Accounting’s main function in Construction is to properly manage the financial stability of the organization. One of the tools that accounting uses to do this is the construction job schedule. This schedule shows the performance of each construction job. Project management works with accounting to furnish the contract amount, change orders, and estimated total cost. Communication is key in keeping the job schedule accurate and correct. The accounting manager’s job is to review and analyze the numbers to determine the profitability of each individual job and maintain an effective job schedule. There are several ways to do this:

  • Over/under billing
  • Estimated total cost vs. actual total cost
  • Total Gross Profit (loss) recognized in current period

Over and Under Billing

Over/under billing needs to be determine by the accounting manager; it is his/her job to make sure that all change orders and contract amounts are correct. Problems arise when you have entered the costs and exceed the billing amounts to the client in any period. Cash flow issues are another problem that will affect your month to month financial stability. It may be the most single important accounting short term issue that you will come across in your job schedule and weekly cash flow.

To determine if you are under billed you must review the “Cost and Estimated Earnings in Excess of Billing” column of your spreadsheet. As you review each job, keep in mind that if you have a larger numbering in a job column, then it should send up a red flag. Your organization does not want to “finance” the project for the client. So it is your job as a manager to maintain balance regarding the amount you are billing. Then compare it to the invoice you receive from vendors and sub-contractors.

To effectively maintain that balance you must develop a system that will incorporate project management into your job schedule. Meet once a month to go over each job to determine what you need to change (i.e. executed change orders, additional jobs, etc…). Having meetings with your project management personnel will only help to eliminate the problem of having too little income to cover outstanding accounts payable invoices each month.

Cost Coding

Each month, input your actual cost incurred to date. It should always be less or at the same cost of the estimated total cost. To maintain an effective job schedule you must, as a manager, determine why your actual costs are not in line with your estimated costs. One way to determine that is to review what has been cost coded to the various jobs.

This will help because it will determine if there was a mistake in coding or a mistake in keying the information in by your accounts payable clerk/assistant. If a mistake has been made and then corrected, then check with project management to determine whether you need to execute a change order. Vendors and subs do not submit their invoices based on an executed change order to the client from your organization. Therefore proactively make sure the work has been done. Then you must issue a change order to the client immediately. This not only a project management or construction management issue. It’s a company issue each functional group within the company needs to address.

Job Profitability

If your company is a for-profit entity, your work as an Accounting Manager/Controller is to keep your bottom line black (profit). That should be your focus. You must be able review your job schedule to determine your job by job profitability. Keeping your overhead low will not solve the problem, if your jobs are not performing at the required level. Although job profitability is a project management function, effectively managing the job schedule by reviewing profits in a period is extremely important. It is also critical to recognize profits in the proper period if your company utilizes accrual based accounting.

If too much profit is taken in a period, then it could hurt you down the road when unforeseen costs hit. For example, one job could jeopardize the overall company profitability for the year. Ways to combat this is to determine a proper amount to reorganize in the period. If there seems to be a lot of revenue that a certain project could take on, then review and verify its accuracy. Sometimes previous costs have not been taken into account. It could require that you take a greater loss in addition to the cost that have currently hit the present job. Following up once you review the schedule could save you and the company down the road.

Conclusion

For Construction Accounting, the Job Schedule is the single most important factor pertaining to profitability and stability. When you are a good steward of the company’s finances and maintain an effective job schedule, you can only perpetuate the confidence of others in your organization. This leads to more profitable months in the years to come.

To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

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maintain an effective job schedule

See Also:
Progress Billing for a General Contractor
Retainage Management and Collection
Work in Progress
How to manage inventory
Trade Credit

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Consumer Price Index (CPI)

See Also:
Economic Indicators
What is Inflation?
Supply and Demand Elasticity
The Feds Beige Book
Stagflation

Consumer Price Index (CPI) Definition

The consumer price index is an economic indicator that measures changes in prices of typical consumer expenses. It is also used to measure inflation and the cost of living in a geographic area. For example, if living expenses rise in a particular region due to inflation, this would result in an increase in that region’s CPI. The CPI is published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.

Consumer Price Index Basket

Calculate the CPI using the prices of items in a “basket” of typical consumer goods and services. The basket includes food, transportation, shelter, clothing, medical care, entertainment, and other items. Prices are determined by samples taken from stores or providers in the relevant geographic area. Then the prices are weighted according to the item’s significance to the consumer. The core CPI is a variant of the CPI that excludes food and energy prices.

Cost of Living Index

You can also call the consumer price index the cost of living index.

Headline Inflation Definition

Also refer to the consumer price index as headline inflation.

US CPI Components

The U.S. CPI covers more than 200 categories of goods and services. The categories fall into the following 8 groupings:

1. Food and Beverages
2. Housing
3. Apparel
4. Transportation
5. Medical care
6. Recreation
7. Education and Communication
8. Other Goods and Services

If you want to learn how to price for profit, then download our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide.

consumer price index

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Consumer Price Index Homepage

If you want more information about the CPI, then go to: www.blg.gov/cpi.

If you want more information about the CPI frequently asked questions, then go to: www.bls.gov/cpi/cpifaq.

US CPI Historical Data

If you want historical CPI data, then go to: ftp.bls.gov/pub.

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LEARN THE ART OF THE CFO