Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP, Computers, Systems,

Best-in-Class vs ERP Suite

Below, please find a blog posting from a referral partner of L6S Business Consulting, Josh Szakal of Black River Technologies.

The age old decision between choosing a Best-in-Class software solution vs an All-in-One Suite package is a heated topic that should be at the forefront of your mind when selecting a software solution.

Before making the decision, you first need to understand what the key differences are. The aim of a traditional suite software package is to provide businesses with one stop shopping for all their software needs. In the world of ERP software, suite vendors provide solutions that handle everything from financial management, and point-of-sale, to CRM.

The benefit of moving forward with a suite software package is that all of your data is located in one place, and integration between applications is handled by one developer. On the flip-side, the biggest downside to suite packages is that they are usually ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. You may take comfort in the fact that you have an all-in-one solution that handles your entire business, but might soon find that the functionality you really wanted is seriously lacking. Restricting yourself to a suite software package restricts you the R&D efforts of its software developer, which is likely spread over a wide range of products, instead of focusing on one specific area that makes them best-in-class.

A Best-In-Class software solution on the other hand strives to be the best in one area of significance and focuses all of its efforts in this one area. Choosing a best-in-class approach allows you to choose the best solution for each part of your business, enabling you to get the most out of software automation. Using Intacct as an example, financial management is the #1 priority of software development. The solution provides greater functionality and flexibility with respect to your finance and reporting needs, and offers integration to other software systems where applicable. Take Salesforce.com as an example. This software is the leader in providing CRM solutions to its customers, and seamlessly integrates with the Intacct Quote-to-Cash process, allowing the experts to focus on their respective areas of functionality where they each do extremely well.

We at Black River Technologies believe that a best-in-class approach is the direction your organization needs to take to truly excel in your business processes. This is the approach that is going to allow you the freedom to make the right decisions with respect to software automation at each stage in your business’s growth cycle.

Want to learn more about what best-in-class ERP software has in store for your organization? Click here to learn how to elevate your ERP experience!

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Book Review: The Remedy

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The Remedy

There are few business concepts which are applicable across any company in any industry. From solopreneurs to multi-national conglomerates, the principles of Lean Management are a tool to improve the culture of a company.

I recently got the chance to read “The Remedy” by Pascal Dennis, which is a real life story about how lean was applied across a large car manufacturer.

Lean is predominantly known to be a process to decrease waste within manufacturing processes. Through the travels of Tom and his sensei Andy, stories are told on how Lean Management is applied within non-manufacturing settings.  The reader is taken through a journey where common obstacles of dealing with a company that is heavily placed into silos, non-communitive, and insular culture are dealt with. You get the opportunity to see how Lean Management can be applied in the non-manufacturing departments of Human Resources, Marketing, Product Development, and Accounting.

The reader is introduced to many of the basic concepts and terminology of Lean Management (for example the 8 types of waste) in the style where Tom, the plant manager of the shining star of Taylor Motors, is taken from his current role to lead the development and launch of a new car, originally known as the Defiant.

If you want to learn more about Lean Management, this would be an ‘average’ book to pick up. The Japanese terminology is used throughout the book which can make things confusing at time. There are great animations throughout the book, but at times, too many. It gave the feeling that you were reading a Pictionary book at times.

I personally don’t see this book as being a good starting point if you are a novice to Lean Management. Lean is best learnt within a manufacturing setting since the subject matter can be visibly seen. The author previously wrote “Andy & Me” which details the journey of transforming a manufacturing plant towards being Lean. This book would be a good starting point.

Do you have any books about Lean and Lean Management that you recommend?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

United, Airlines, Airports, Viral

Volunteering at United

The newest corporate public relations blunder now belongs to United Continental Airlines (United). I am sure that Pepsi is very happy to pass the hat onto another corporate citizen.

What Happened

It is ‘commonly known’, in some circles, that airlines will oversell their flights to ensure that they are full at time of departure. United follows the same practice. This practice came to a head for a flight from Chicago to Louisville on April 10th. United staff asked for 4 people to voluntarily give up their seats to accommodate the airline. 3 people volunteered while the 4th person was violently removed from their seat. From a memo off the desk of the CEO of United, Oscar Munoz, the person was ‘re-accommodated’.

Airlines commonly overbook their flights, for multiple reasons. According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2016, less than 1 in 10,000 were involuntarily bumped from the major US airlines. In 2016, this happened to United passengers at a rate of 0.43 per 10,000. It happened on American Airlines at a rate of 0.64 and at Southwest Airlines to 0.99 persons per 10,000.

Why Did It Happen

Overbooking happens for a number of reasons. None, however, can explain the events that occurred.

Resource Allocation: A flight leaving from Louisville had 4 members of its flight crew in Chicago. This is a reason why 4 seats were required. Did United not have any flight crews in Louisville that they could have used? Are their flight crews centrally located in certain locations or based off flight schedule and needs? Overall, did the schedule of the flight crews have then in the correct place?

Leadership: The CEO of United, Oscar Munoz, sent out a memo to staff after the event blaming the passenger for actions which is not seen in any of the footage that was captured. The CEO mention in the memo that the passenger was violent and belligerent. A properly written memo could have helped the situation but instead, gas was poured on the fire. If an employee of mine treats a customer that way, I would take ownership of the situation right away. It can be assumed that staff were not properly trained. That is a responsibility of the CEO. I understand that it was Chicago Airport Police that removed the person but United staff should have been trained on various methods to help get passengers to volunterily give up their seat. I have seen it happen effectively.

KPIs: United is a publicly traded company. Shareholders are constantly looking at the numbers to see how their investment is performing. Revenue per Available Seat and Passenger Miles Flown are key indicators on the health of an airline. Why does this create overbooking? If there is no passenger in the seat, the miles flown per passenger are negatively affected. When travelling, I have waited more than once for a fellow passenger to board the place. By overbooking, airlines are ensuring that there is a person in every seat.

Sensitivity: Consumers are rarely loyal to a certain airline. They will change airlines to save $5. If you don’t have any loyalty to an airline or are constantly purchasing the cheapest flight possible, you are increasing your chance of getting bumped out of your seat.

Legality: Airlines are allowed to overbook their flights and they are also ALLOWED to remove someone from a plane. In the purchasing contracts of Canadian airlines, however, it does not state how a person could be removed from the plane. Based on this assumption, the acts which happened on United are allowed and legal.

Internet Reaction

As you can imagine, the reaction from the Internet, specifically Twitter, was very fast. Videos of the event were online hours after the event occurred. It is possible that videos were posted even before the plane departed Chicago.

Social Media, Reaction, United, Overbooked

Some reaction from Twitter in regards to the United flight.

Stock Market Reaction

Shareholders of United firstly saw the event in a positive light by bidding up the price of the stock. When reading the headlines, the focus was most probably on the fact that United was overbooking their flights. A great problem for business is to have too many customers. As I am writing this the day after the event, United’s stock price has already decreased by 4%.

Overbooking, United

United’s Stock increase after word of event spread

Operating in the airline industry is not an easy task. There is a high capital investment along with the fact that one of your largest costs, jet fuel and airport fees, are largely controlled by third parties. Overbooking of flights is not something that will stop in the near future. Airlines have lost their sensitivity to consumer demands and views…mostly because consumers have trained them to be that way.  Even after dragging a bleeding and paying customer off one of their planes, United is still flying today and will for some time.

Did you know that airlines commonly overbook their flights? If you were a CEO of airlines, would you look at stopping the overbooking of flights? How would you do it so your financials are not compromised?

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting (www.l6sbc.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Assocation, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

Do I Have to Really?

With the way that society is driven, everyone fits into a specific box.  People are introverts or extroverts. Shy or colourful. Talkative or quiet. There seems to be no grey area which is acceptable. A label must be tagged onto each person so we know how to deal with them best.

It is expected that people are either a morning person or a night owl. If this was the case, wouldn’t society set itself up for success? Wouldn’t that mean that businesses be closed or not operating during ‘non productive’ hours? In some way, you would have a morning crew and night crew, if you have the work and man power.

Morning Person

Observations that I have made tells me that people are mostly not morning or night people…but unmotivated to start out their day or comfortable. 1 out of 10 persons like to get up early in the morning, 2 out of 10 are most productive late at night, while the other 7 out of 10 people are able to be productive early in the morning or late at night[1].

Each person knows their own body the best. You know when you are most productive. Set your schedule to help maximize your productivity.

One of the benefit of waking up early is that you can get a lot of work done while others are sleeping. The same is true for a night owl. 8 out of 10 people are sleeping when night owls are working which is very close to the 9 out of 10 people sleeping while the morning person is working.

So what should you do?

Self-awareness: Pay attention to your energy level and mood during different times of the day. Find out when you are most effective.

Routine: Once you know when you are most productive, set a routine so you can take advantage of your premium productive time.

Communicate: Communicate with friends, families, and co-workers what your schedule is like. People will fully understand the need to maximize the productive of your efforts.

Would you consider yourself a night owl? A morning person? How have you tried to adjust your schedule? I would love to hear.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867

 

[1] https://www.nasw.org/users/llamberg/larkowl.htm

Keeping that Level Head

Level Head Picture

Everyone, as you would expect and know, have different characteristics that make up their personality. No two people are the same. These characteristics are unique identifiers within our own social groups. Even though no two people are the same, it is possible to see characteristics which are generally common in a certain geographic area or occupations.

For example, Albertans, when compared to other Canadians, are considered to be risk takers and are willing to try new things. Being an accountant, we are considered to be structured process-based thinkers, well organized, and more introverted then the norm. Why is that accountants, generally, have comparable personalities? Personally, I believe that is in the training we go through, and the roles that we are tasked to do. It would be rather hard to complete an audit if you are scatter brained.

Entrepreneurs do not come from a certain background. There are entrepreneurs who have a background in accounting, marketing, or even ditch digging!  Successful entrepreneurs do have common trait that is often overlooked. They are able to keep level headed.

The ability to stay level headed, allows a rational thought process to take over, and analyze data while others are trying to avoid having the sky fall on them, is an important trait. Very rarely you will be warned if a decision can be a deciding factor for the future of your firm. It is something that is learned only when looking in the rear view mirror.

Remember to keep your wits about you when tensions are rising. You may be able to identify opportunities or threats that no one else notices.

How did you react the last time you found yourself in a pressure cooker? What would you do differently? Please share so we can all learn from it.

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Reasons to Network

networkingRelationships are the basis of just about everything. Humans are a social being which appreciate the company of others, in general. As with any business, networking events hold a certain higher level of importance. In many terms, it can help determine the future of your business. During a couple networking events that I attended during the summer, I noticed that some people were trying to close a SALE during a networking event?!?!?!?!

I was taken aback by the approach from those people. I asked one person if they knew my needs and how their product was going to fix a shortcoming that my company or I have. The answer that I received was a very well memorized couple of phrases which was delivered without passion. My reply back was “Why are you here right now? Why do you network?” The person stopped, put some thought into their response and said “To increase sales!” Yes, networking can help to increase your sales but not at the networking event.

I enjoy going to networking events around the city. I go to these events for different reasons, depending on the people that are attending.

networking2Development new relationships: Of course, one of the main reasons to attend networking events is to meet new people and create new relationships. Meeting and talking to someone at a networking event is just the start of the relationship. As with any relationship, constant attention and time is needed to help it grow. Those new relationships can develop into being a future resource, supplier, or customer.

Depending on the number of people at a networking event, I am looking to be able to have coffee or lunch with 2-5 people from the event. During the follow up meeting, more personal attention can be placed towards the other person.

Strengthen Old Relationships: As previously mentioned, attention is needed to help foster the growth and the attraction between people for a strong relationship. There is nothing wrong with attending a networking event and spending the time reconnecting with people you have met before.

Social Interaction: Being a solopreneur who works from home, networking events become an avenue where I can social contact with other people. That social interaction may help re-energize or re-vitalize someone to continue on for a productive week.

What networking events do you like to attend? What is your reason for attending those specific events?

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Falling Back In

Autumn colours surround the Tu Hwnt i'r Bont tearooms on the banks of the River ConwyAt this time of year, we get to see some great colours in the trees. The temperature is starting to fall and daylight is becoming shorter and shorter. The change in the season also brings about a change in the business environment. With any of these changes, they happen like clockwork just about every year.

The change in the business environment, that I am mentioned above, is the ‘return’ of the decision makers. Many decisions could have been stalled based on the fact that the group of decision makers were gone on vacation. Maybe analysis couldn’t be prepared for the decision making process. Summer is a period where people reconnect with their projects, finish what is needed to be done and start fresh along with the new school year.

Over the last few weeks, I have heard a large amount of ‘optimism’ or ‘encouragement’ that business can now be finally done since the decision makers are now all collectively back at work. There was also a sense of frustration due to the ‘inactivity’ and no new projects being launched during the summer.

Hearing these statements a number of times over the years has had me question something: When is it a new concept that during the summer things tend to drag on? Is it a new business norm that many new things tend not to start during the summer?

From my observations, this is something that occurs every year along with the changing of the leaves, decrease in temperature and the amount of daylight hours.

Knowing that summer is a ‘slow’ period, you should plan for this slowdown by either building up your cash reserve , or build up your sales funnel to keep yourself busy.

It seems to be easy to identify a problem, but it is something else to actually do something about it.

What are your thoughts around the ‘summer slowdown’? I would like to hear what you think.

Have a great week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

ReBlog: The Walmart Way

Over the next few weeks, I will be re blogging my most popular blogs from the past year.  I will be back blogging about business news and concepts in September. If you have any suggestions for blogs, feel free to contact me.

walmart

Walmart is known to be a retail destination where you can buy almost anything for the lowest price around. As you can tell, they are following the value proposition of operational excellence. That can be a scary value proposition to take on because there is always the threat of another company entering the market and being even lower in cost to the consumer. As with anything, rules are only a general concept to follow. Walmart has been able to create a leading market space for itself. This model helped the company become the largest company in the world, when measured by revenue[1].

Walmart is able to leverage its buying power and purchasing contracts to maintain or decrease the cost of an item before it hits the shelves. Walmart has sophisticated data mining abilities to tell the marketing team which 500 items you are most likely to buy that week. Those items are placed in the flyers to entice people in the door. Personally, I have shopped at Walmart (5 times), but I have yet to buy anything. I have been able to find the same item at another retailer at a cheaper price.

Walmart does not only use its buying power to help keep its costs down. As you can see below, Walmart is not a high wage payer within the retail industry. In comparison to Costco, Walmart’s average wage is more than $4 less. Benefit costs are also lower for Walmart but when you look at the second part of the chart, you will see that Costco is able to get more from their employees than Walmart is. As you can tell, employees and employee relations are not high on the strategy list for Walmart. As a matter of fact, a few of Walmart stores have undergone organized labour drives. In the case of one union drive, the store was immediately closed after it was certified[2].

Walmart

I know that many people are unhappy with Walmart’s treatment of their employees, but as I said, it is not high on their list and it is still working for them. I personally know a few people that work for Walmart and they love working there.

Walmart may not treat their employees well, based off your perspective and knowledge, but with 2.2 million employees, they have to be doing something right!

Have an awesome week

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

L6S Business Consulting will also be holding 3 sessions in regards to better understanding and using social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). For more information, please email: info@L6SBC.ca

 Social Media Seminars

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue

[2] http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/#!/content/1.2689646

Book Review: Leading Change by John Kotter

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While reviewing a list of ‘must read’ books on the subject of business/management, I came across Leading Change by John Kotter. I knew the work of Mr Kotter from his Harvard Business Review article called Leading Change. This article is used in many MBA programs and also within the former CMA (Certified Management Accountant) program. Mr. Kotter is considered to be one of the leading thinkers and researchers on change management.

The book Leading Change is very easy to read with very few ‘trendy’ business words or acronyms. The book is also well laid out in that the problem with change management is detailed, along with a brief look at how change has been seen to be properly rolled out.

The second section of the book places emphasis on the 8 stages of successful change management:

Developing Urgency: If there is no reason to change with a deadline, then it won’t happen.

Creating the Guiding Coalition: Groups of people who are leaders, have vision, and are able to motivate are required for successful change. A CEO, especially of a large company, can’t create change by oneself.

Developing Vision & Strategy: You can lead someone somewhere without having identified where you are going and how.

Communication the Change Vision: Communicating the urgency for change, the people involved, the end goal, and the path that will be taken is required to have your staff join you on the adventure.

Empowering Employees: Remove barriers for employees to implement the change strategy, give them the required training, and change your systems to conform to the change.

Generating Short-term Wins: Don’t be afraid to celebrate small successes. Those successes will give your employees the sense of accomplishment and help motivate them.

Consolidating Gains & Producing More Change: Keep your message consistent. Don’t celebrate change and allow people to decrease the progress of the change.

Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture: Make the changes that you have developed a part of your culture. In Lean Six Sigma, approximately 80% of companies fail to do this and within 5 years, they are back to their old habits.

Change is a constant in the business world. Change is not something that will go away but it is increasing in the rate of occurrences. You can put it together with death and taxes.  For anyone involved in business or with dealing with people in general, it is highly recommended that you find this book at your local book store and read it over a quiet Sunday afternoon. It is a book that I can foresee myself referring to in the future on a constant basis.

What business or management books have you enjoyed lately? Do you have any recommendations for a great read?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

L6S Business Consulting will also be holding 3 sessions in regards to social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). For more information, please email: info@L6SBC.ca

Midway Check In

80023028_9202c3d6cf_zIt is half way through the year which means it is a perfect time to check in with our goals. You may find it comical that I check in with my goals on a quarterly basis. That is not the end of it!

I actually review my goals and the plan to reach my goals every Sunday morning. My goals and plan are actually right beside my computer monitor so it is always top of mind. I try my best to ensure that the actions I take are in line with my plan to make my goals a reality. It is one thing to have a dream, but it is another thing to have a plan to reach that dream. I don’t plan on dreaming away my whole life, so I would rather get things done to reach those dreams.

I have been progressing nicely on my personal goals. I have hit some bumps in the road, but as we all know, success is not a straight line up.

successisnotstraight-part2My work goals have been doing much better. Even with my best efforts, some goals have obviously fallen off of the way side. Actually, they have fallen so far away that they can’t be seen any more. I am currently re-evaluating if those goals are possible. Based on current conditions, there will be a pretty big shift in my skills development goal that I had set out. In the end, those fallen goals were not SMART goals. Upon retrospect, they were not realistic with everything else going around me and in some cases, the timing of having the goals achieved is poor.

Are you keeping up with your goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Have you made any adjustments or you have just fallen off of the wagon? I am very goal orientated so I used those goals to drive me. You might not be goal orientated but you do have driver that keeps you going. As long as you are progressing forward, you are moving in the right direction.

Feel free to share with me your goals. We can help to keep each other accountable.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.