Monthly Archives: January 2017

Laundromat Business Plan – Sample Layout

These days most experts will advise you to create a business plan before you decide to take the risks that are associated with starting a business. A laundromat is typically a little more complicated than other small business models so the need for research, planning and a clear direction are even more essential for entrepreneurs entering the coin operated laundry industry.

A laundromat business plan will help you to prove to yourself that your ideas are viable. With a plan in place you will be able to set clear goals and map out a path towards achieving them in an organized manner. A sound business plan may become essential if you have to show it to financiers or investors prior to getting the startup funds that you need. Lastly it will help you to be more realistic and to ask yourself some tough questions about your ideas.

In this article we have set out a sample laundromat business plan layout. We have set out some examples of titles and content that you might consider using. Feel free to use it as a template as you proceed to put your own plan together.

Cover Letter

Your plan should be set out neatly in a folder with a cover that outlines what the report is about and who contributed to it. It is likely that many different parties will read your plan so you may consider attaching a cover letter to each one that addresses the reader specifically, highlighting the concerns that they will have.

Contents Page

If the plan is any longer than a couple of pages you should include a table of contents. This includes a list of all headings and sub-headings together with a page reference so that the information can be located quickly by the reader.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a simple introduction to the report. Give the reader a brief introduction to your business plan and summarize each of the sections in the plan.

Mission Statement

While not essential, some businesses like to set out a mission statement which outlines their purpose or business philosophy. It usually covers non-financial motives. For a laundromat you might say that you strive to provide the best service to your customers or that you want to provide a clean, safe and efficient way for them to do their laundry. Your mission should be to do your best for the customer and to be better than your competitors.

Background

Provide readers with some background information on yourself and any other individuals who are involved with the proposed laundromat. Readers may want to know what your qualifications are and if you have had any experience in business or in the coin laundry industry.

Provide a background on the local coin laundry industry so that readers get a better understanding of the opportunities that are available.

If your planning has been in progress for a while then you might want to update the reader on what stage you are at. If you are considering purchasing an existing laundromat then you will want to outline the history of the business in this section too.

Business Description

Offer readers a basic description of the proposed coin laundry business. When will your new unit open for business? Where will it be located? Will you have an attendant on-site at the laundromat all day or only part-time?

Goals and Targets

Set out a list of realistic targets that you want to achieve with the business in the first year or two. Such targets could be financial and relate to gross or net profits on a monthly basis. They could also be related to other metrics such as membership numbers or customer satisfaction rates. Thinking longer term you may also set goals to expand into new locations.

Startup Requirements

Before you can launch your new laundromat business you must know exactly what you are going to need and how much it will cost. Costs will include everything from equipment purchases, renovations and marketing along with professional fees and compliance costs.

Once you have listed everything out you can then work out the total startup cost. From here you can mention some of the options that you have for funding the laundromat. Mention how much you will be able to contribute yourself and how much external funding you will require.

Products and Services

Go through the services that you plan on offering to customers. As well as a basic machine laundry service with washers and dryers you may also offer more upmarket services like ironing or dry cleaning. Make a note of the products that will be vended onsite. Obviously you will sell washing related products like soap powder and fabric softener but you may also offer non-related products like coffee and soda.

Market Analysis

As a prerequisite to writing a plan you should have done at least a little market research around the area where you propose to open your coin laundry. You can present your findings in this section of the plan.

In your research you should attempt to discover if there is sufficient demand for a laundromat in the area in question and if so, exactly what kind of services the people within this target market want.

You also need to consider the competition that you have in the local area. Produce a map that shows your customer catchment area bearing in mind that customers will usually go to the laundromat that is more convenient for them to get to. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Is it going to be possible to pull customers from the catchment area of competing laundromats? Can you make your service that much more attractive than theirs?

Marketing Plan

Set out a plan to bring new customers into your laundromat and to convert them into regulars. The marketing component of your plan should cover everything from the development of your brand, pricing, advertising, other marketing methods and customer service.

Remember that in the laundromat business you will be relying on building long term relationships with regular customers. You not only need to focus on bringing in new customers but you also have to focus on satisfying and ‘over delivering’ to your existing customer base. If you retain your customers and please them then you will also benefit by referrals and ‘word of mouth’.

Business Operations

Set out a plan for the daily operation of your laundromat. Make a note of the equipment that you will have in place and how the demands for water and energy will be met. Mention how you plan on maintaining the machines.

Discuss your daily staff requirements. What role will you, as the owner take in the daily running of the laundromat? How many employees will you need and what will their responsibilities be?

What other systems will you have in place to ensure that the laundromat runs smoothly on a daily basis and that you can control and manage the business efficiently. Will you have a computer system to keep track of stock and cash flows? What about a security system?

Financial Analysis

Lastly, but most importantly, a sound business plan will include detailed financial forecasts over a period of two to three years. This data is best displayed in spreadsheets so that you can set up a column for each month. Some businesses include more than one spreadsheet to allow for different situations. You may consider including one as a best case scenario and others that show revenue growing at a slower rate than is expected.

Try to identify a break even point where the business would basically be running without making a profit, but without losing money at the same time. Then you will have an idea of the customer volume that you will have to aim for. To calculate break even point you need to assume an average customer spend per visit and then calculate the number of customer visits needed on a monthly basis.

If you are borrowing money to start the business you should also include a repayment schedule to show how fast the loan will be paid back.

Appendix

Many assumptions are made in business plans so it is important to be able to give reasons as to why you made such assumptions. Rather than guessing you should try to include data that backs up your theories. Include an appendix at the end of your plan that includes all supporting materials that don’t fit conveniently into the pages of the report. These could include maps, pictures, spreadsheets, tables and lists of references and sources to name just a few examples.

Preparing a Business Plan – 4 Important Factors to Consider

A business plan is a written outline about a whole new project that tends to deliver something new or unique in addition to keeping in mind the economic and practical feasibility of that project.

Having said that these plans about a project should be feasible in all aspects, preparing it would take lot of accurate calculations. So, here are some of the important things to be taken care of while preparing a business plan.

The readers should understand that it is a decision-making tool. So, everything should be accurate, to the point and absolutely possible. For example, the objective of the project should be clearly mentioned and the all aspects in the particular plan should be working towards achieving the object. It should not deviate even one bit. The presentation of the plan should be clearly understandable.

When you prepare a business plan, it is very important that you do not look it from your own perspective. It is the global market that you are going to concentrate when you present a plan. So, try to bring in facts, details and calculations about the competitor in the same field and how your plan is better than the competitor.

The main aim of your plan is to get someone to support your new venture. If you are clear about the competitor and the market, it is invariably true that you will impress the audience.

Another important thing to keep in mind while preparing a business plan is to never make assumptions or to give baseless calculations. The people analyzing your plan are highly qualified and aware of every tiny bit of information you give during your plan presentation.

Traditional Vs Lean Manufacturing Concepts

When we think about lean manufacturing we think about work cells, kanban cards, TQM and so on. But many people do a basic mistake. That is the mistake of not understanding the concepts on which lean manufacturing built on. Many people who copied lean manufacturing failed because they did not understood the concepts behind lean manufacturing.

We shall give a simple definition to lean manufacturing before we go further. Lean manufacturing can be defined as a systematic approach to continuously identify and remove the wastes from the system. All the tools and techniques are based on fulfillment of this simple requirement.

To identify the conceptual difference between lean manufacturing and conventional manufacturing, we will have a look at the definition given above. There is a very important word to note. That is “Removing”. Removing of waste from the system might not sound very different to minimization of wastes in the system, what we talk in conventional manufacturing. But think carefully. These two words are very different in the context of manufacturing (or even services).

When you think about minimizing of waste, you are thinking about the current system where you have wastes. You think about minimizing those wastes by fine tuning the system. When you think about eliminating or removing wastes from the system, you will have to find the causes for the wastes and remove them from the system. This means that you will have to redefine the process in a way that there are no wastes generated. So in the first case you live in the system where there are wastes, and struggle to get some improvement. In the later, you change the system so that system itself will not have the wastes. Aren’t they really different?

I will give you one more example to clarify the conceptual difference between lean manufacturing and traditional manufacturing. Think about Work In Progress (WIP). In a traditional manufacturing process WIP is treated as an asset which helps to run the process smoothly. Lean manufacturing though, treats WIP as a waste itself. Further, lean manufacturing treats WIP as a mirror which reflects the imperfection of the system.

I can go on and on explaining conceptual differences these systems have. But it is very important to understand one thing about lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is not a fine tuning to the traditional manufacturing system you had. It is a completely different system. To be able to implement lean manufacturing correctly, understand the conceptual differences between lean manufacturing and traditional manufacturing.

To lean more about lean manufacturing and get your free e-book “lean manufacturing basics” visit http://www.leanmanufacturingconcepts.com

Forensic Accounting – a New Paradigm For Niche Consulting

OBJECTIVES OF WRITING THIS ARTICLE: Forensic accounting(F.A.) has come into limelight due to rapid increase in financial frauds and white-collar crimes. But it is largely untrodden area in India.The integration of accounting, auditing and investigative skills creates the speciality know as F.A.The opportunities for the Forensic Accountants are growing fast;they are being engaged in public practice and are being employed by insurance companies, banks, police forces, government agencies etc.This article seeks to examine the meaning and nature, activities and services rendered, core knowledge and personal skills required for forensic accounting as a specialized field in accountancy profession. Indeed there is a future in F.A. as a separate niche consulting.

The lack of respect and belief in India’s law enforcement agencies and the rate at which white-collar crimes have increased has prompted the development of Forensic Accounting in India. The fraud detecting agencies seems to lack time and devotion needed for detecting and prevention of errors and fraud. According to a large global accounting firm, the market is sufficiently big enough to maintain an unit devoted entirely towards “forensic accounting”. Many large as well as small accounting firms as well as the tiny firms have inculcated or rather developed separate forensic accounting departments.

We were of the belief that detection and prevention of frauds or white-collar crimes is part of conventional accounting function. It was thought that the frauds, both internal as well as external has be to detected by the auditors through their periodic audit. Now it is crystal clear that auditors can only check for the compliance of a company’s books to generally accepted accounting principles, auditing standards and company policies. Hence the need was felt to detect the frauds in companies that are suspected to be engaged in fraudulent transactions. This field of accounting is known as “forensic accounting”.

The litmus test of investigation, first introduced by the ever great Sherlock-Homes(considered by many as the father of Forensic Accounting) is perhaps the first ever application of forensic accounting. Though, the contribution of the other few great historians to the field of forensic accounting cannot be overlooked. They used various tricks to investigate various crimes.

F.A. is a specialized a area of accounting practice that describes engagements which result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation. The word “forensic” means “suitable for use in court”. The forensic accountants have to keep in mind this statement while they have to work or chalk out their programme. The F.A. work is tailor made according to the situation and need. The gathering of information and evidences is done according to the need and situation. We can say, it is customized according to the situation. The forensic-accountants give expert evidence at the ultimate trial. All the modern medium-sized as well as the large-sized accounting firms have specialized forensic accounting departments. Within these firms there may be specialized forensic accounting departments. Within these groups their may be further sub-specializations. Various sub-specializations include insurance claims, personal injury claims, fraud detection, construction or royalty audits. Nearly 40 percent of the top 100 US accounting firms are expanding their forensic and fraud services, according to Accounting Today. Now if we consider this data as significant then we can say that the total contribution of forensic accounting to the total revenue of the C.A. firms would be highly significant in the years to come. Under rising instances of frauds and litigation and flourishing businesses these services are considered to be very significant as they are rendered at a very competitive price.

The forensic accountants utilize the various information relating the business, utilizes financial reporting systems, various accounting and auditing standards and procedures, investigative techniques and litigation processes and procedure to perform their work. By acting as advisors to audit committees and assisting in investment analyst research, they are playing more “proactive” risk reduction roles.This is possible by designing and performing extended procedures as part of the statutory audit. The objectives of such an accounting include measurement of losses caused by an auditor due to his negligence, to look into the matter whether their has been any embezzlement of cash, the amount, necessity of criminal proceedings, computation of asset values in a divorced proceeding.

The primary approach technique of forensic accounting is explanatory analysis(cause and effect)of the phenomena-including the discovery of deception(if any), and its effects -introduced into an accounting system field. The primary methodology employed by the forensic accountants is the verification of the objective. They are trained to deal with real world business and do have the sufficient expertise to look beyond(behind) the numbers. The scope of the forensic accountants are growing at a rapid pace. The increase in their work opportunities have been accelerated due to the fall of the Enron corporation and the collapse of the American Twin Towers.

This has led to increase in the demand for American forensic accountants. So as far India is concerned, formation of Serious Fraud Investigation Office(SIFO) is a landmark creation so far as forensic accountants are concerned. Failure of regulators to track security scams, increasing cyber crimes, chain of cooperative banks bursting -all point to the ever increasing need for forensic accountants. Our understanding of the need for forensic accountants is immaterial here. In India due to the growing number of frauds the need for forensic accountants is ever increasing. The regulatory and administrative agencies will put pressure for greater demand of forensic practices. This has been initiated due to the changing nature of Indian and International accounting.Auditing and assurance standards also confirm this. A change in the curriculum can be initiated if the written exams and practical industrial training are boosted to show the “new knowledge base and skill-set” required by the professional accountants in the new era. It is therefore recommended that the “forensic accounting and auditing” be introduced as a paper in the various professional examinations conducted by the various accounting bodies in India. Unfortunately forensic accounting is largely an unexplored area as far as India is concerned. The chartered Accountants(CAs) deal with such cases in an irregular fashion. In the western counter-part(countries), the Lawyers, police, insurance companies, government and regulatory bodies, banks, courts and business communities are increasingly utilizing the services of the forensic accountants.The accountants and the auditors must have the skills and expertise to venture into the emerging field of forensic accounting.

What Is Forensic Accounting? The growing needs of corporations has changed the definition of forensic accounting. As per Bologna and Indquist, “the application of financial skills and an investigative mentality to unresolved issues, conducted within the context of rules of evidence.It is a new emerging field that encompasses financial expertise, fraud knowledge, and a sound knowledge and understanding of business reality and the working of the legal system.”It means that the forensic accounting should be skilled not only in financial accounting but also internal control systems, the legal matters, other institutional requirements, investigative blend of mind and interpersonal skills.

According to AICPA: “Forensic accounting is the application of accounting principles, theories, and discipline to facts or hypotheses at issues in a legal dispute and encompasses every branch of accounting knowledge: ‘ Similarly, forensic accounting is defined by Horty as:

“The science that deals with the relation and application of finance, accounting, tax and auditing knowledge to analyze, investigate, inquire, test and examine matters in civil law, criminal law and jurisprudence in an attempt to obtain the truth from which to render an expert opinion.”

In simple words, forensic accounting includes the use of accounting, auditing as well as investigative skills to assist in legal matters.It comprises of two major components: litigation services, that recognizes the role of an accountant as an expert consultant and investigative services, that uses a forensic accountant, s skills and may require possible court-room testimony.

Investigation of theft and defalcation of corporate and individual assets are part of legal matters.They use their education as well as experience to discuss the facts, patterns of the theft or misappropriation.Business accounting systems are reviewed by the forensic accountants.They suggest ways and means to solve and improve the internal control and internal accounting system.This is adopted to prevent theft and fraud. Because of their expert knowledge and educational background and experience their(forensic accountants) work is elevated to a new height.

Forensic accountants do not contest in cases.They act as fact finding devices, try trt to seek the real truth from the hidden facts.They conduct their work in an unbiased and objective manner.They need legal knowledge, expertise, training and experience to perform their work in an effective and real manner.Extensive knowledge in the field of commerce, legal, accounting as well an investigative blend of mind is needed to perform the work in a proper fashion.Expertise in litigation support and testimony in courts of law are also prerequisites of the forensic accountants.This is due to the fact that their work would many times be used in a court of law.The valuation of damages due to criminal and civil wrong-doings need to be done with perfection and for that reason knowledge of business valuation theory is the most essential.

What exactly do the Forensic Accountants perform? Answer: They are trained to deal with real life business situations and are trained to look beyond the numbers.

Analysis, interpretation and summarization of complex financial and business related issues are prominent characteristics of this accounting/auditing profession. Familiarity with legal concepts and procedures is a must.Insurance companies, public practice, banks, police forces and government agencies are major employers of forensic accountants.

The various field of work encompassing the arena of a forensic accountant can be stated in points format as follows:

1) Financial evidence investigation and analysis.

2) Development of computerized software to help in the analysis and presentation of financial evidence.

3) Sharing their findings in the form of reports, slide shows or exhibits and documents collected.

4) To support trial evidence they prepare visual slides, assist in legal proceedings, including testifying in courts as an expert witness.

If we want to say or rather point out the role performed by the forensic accountants in a nutshell, we can say as follows:

Measurement or to quantify the impact of lost earnings. Such as construction delays, stolen trade secrets, insurance disputes, damage/loss estimates, malpractice claims, employee theft, loss of profit, financial solvency reports, disturbance damages, loss of goodwill, compensation losses suffered in expropriation determination, assessment of the potential business compensation costs and providing consultation on business defalcation minimization. Lease default damages, breach of contract, business interruptions, breaches of shareholders and partnership agreements, reconstruction of accounting records,

Investigation of misappropriation, assistance in establishing ownership and division of assets, commercial damages, professional negligence cases, partnership disputes, expert evidence, fair value or fair market value and personal injury damages are included in commercial damages. Tax advocacy, compliance and review of financial statements, tax reporting and tax planning in such areas as income as estate matters are included in tax matters. Analysis, interpretation, summarization, presentation of complex financial and issues relating to the business for investigation is the role of a forensic accountant.

They carry out investigative accounting and provide litigation support.

The services rendered by the forensic accountants are in great demand in the following areas:

1) Fraud detection where employees commit Fraud:

Where the employee indulges in fraudulent activities:

Where the employees are caught to have committed fraud the forensic accountant tries to locate any assets created by them out of the funds defalcated, then try interrogate them and try to find out the hidden truth.

2)Criminal Investigation: Matters relating to financial implications the services of the forensic accountants are availed of. The report of the accountants are considered in preparing and presentation as evidence.

3) Outgoing Partner’s settlement:

If the outgoing partner is not happy about his settlement he can employ a forensic accountant who will correctly assess his dues(assets) as well as his liabilities correctly.

4)Cases relating to professional negligence:

Professional negligence cases are taken up by the forensic accountants.

Non-conformation to Generally Accepted Accounting Standards(GAAS) or non compliance to auditing practices or ethical codes of any profession they are needed to measure the loss due to such professional negligence or shortage in services.

5) Arbitration service: Forensic accountants render arbitration and mediation services for the business community, since they undergo special training in the area of alternative dispute resolution.

6) Facilitating settlement regarding motor vehicle accident: As the forensic accountant is well acquainted with intricacies of laws relating to motor vehicles, and other relevant laws in force, his services become indispensable in measuring economic loss when a vehicle meets with an accident.

7) Settlement of insurance claims: Insurance companies engage forensic accountants to have an accurate assessment of claims to be settled. Similarly, policyholders seek the help of a forensic accountant when they need to challenge the claim settlement as worked out by the insurance companies. A forensic accountant handles the claims relating to consequential loss policy, property loss due to various risks, fidelity insurance and other types of insurance claims.

8) Dispute settlement: Business firms engage forensic accountants to handle contract disputes, construction claims, product liability claims, infringement of patent and trade marks cases, liability arising from breach of contracts and so on.

9) Matrimonial dispute cases: Forensic accountants entertain cases pertaining to matrimonial disputes wherein their role is merely confined to tracing, locating and evaluating any form of asset involved.

Core Knowledge Of Forensic Accountants:

A forensic accountant is expected to be a specialist in accounting and financial systems. Yet, as companies continue to grow in size and complexity, uncovering fraud requires a forensic accountant to become proficient in an ever- increasing number of professional skills and competencies. Here are some of the broad areas of useful expertise for a forensic accountant:

” An in-depth knowledge of financial statements and the ability to critically analyse them. These skills help forensic accountants to uncover abnormal patterns in accounting information and recognise their source.

” A thorough understanding of fraud schemes, including but not limited to asset misappropriations, money laundering, bribery, and corruption.

” The ability to comprehend the internal control systems of corporations, and to set up a control system that assesses risks, achieves management objectives, informs employees of their control responsibilities, and monitors the quality of the programme so that corrections and changes can be made.

” Proficiency in computer and knowledge of network systems. These skills help forensic accountants to conduct investigations in the area of e-banking and computerised accounting systems.

” Knowledge of psychology in order to understand the impulses behind criminal behaviour and to set up fraud prevention programmes that motivate and encourage employees.

” Interpersonal and communication skills, which aid in disseminating information about the company’s ethical policies and help forensic accountants to conduct interviews and obtain crucially needed information.

” Thorough knowledge of company.s governance policies and the laws that regulate these policies.

” Command of criminal and civil law, as well as, of the legal system and court procedures.

Personal Skills Required:

So what does it take to become a forensic accountant? In addition to the specialised knowledge about the techniques of finding out the frauds, one needs patience and an analytical mindset. One has to look beyond the numbers and grasp the substance of the situation. There is a need for the same basic accounting skills that it takes to become a good auditor plus the ability to pay attention to the smallest detail, analyse data thoroughly, think creatively, possess common business sense, be proficient with a computer, and have excellent communication skills. A “sixth”sense that can be used to reconstruct details of past accounting transactions is also beneficial. A photographic memory helps when trying to visualise and reconstruct these past events. The forensic accountant also needs the ability to maintain his composure when detailing these events on the witness stand. Finally, a forensic accountant should be insensitive to personal attacks on his professional credibility. A fraud accountant (as forensic accountants are sometimes called) should also observe and listen carefully. By this, you can improve your ability to detect lies whether they involve fraud or not. This is so because”not all liars are fraudsters, but all fraudsters are liars”(Wells).

According to a forensic accounting expert, “the traits of a forensic accountant could be compared to a well-baked pizza. The base of forensic accounting is accounting knowledge. Size and the extent of baking decide the quality of the pizza. A middle layer is a dispersed knowledge of auditing, internal controls, risk assessment and fraud detection. It is like the spread of the cheese in pizza. The toppings of this pizza area basic understanding of the legal environment. The legal environment is essential in order to support the litigations. The cherry on the toppings of the pizza is a strong set of communication skills, both written and oral. It is just the beautification part. Perfect combination of the pizza base, cheese spread and good toppings makes the pizza delicious and the of company’s the laws that Forensic Auditor perfects. It is a combination that will be in demand for as long as human nature exists.”

In addition to these personal characteristics, accountants must meet several additional requirements to become successful forensic accountants, say a Certification, acknowledging his competence. One can learn forensic accounting by obtaining a diploma given by Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in the US. Indian chapter of ACFE offers the course based on the white-collared crimes prevalent in US, based on their laws. However, there is no formal body that provides formal education of the frauds in India. Besides the formal certificate, one can deepen one’s knowledge and sharpen one’s skills in forensic accounting by undergoing training under an experienced forensic accountant, participating in various international conferences, reading relevant journals, books and other literature on forensic accounting.

To combat the frauds effectively one needs the active support of government at every stage. There are three-four such agencies in India, which are dedicated to the mission of combating frauds. Serious Fraud Office looks into violations of Income Tax, FEMA, RBI Act, etc.; CBI (Economic Office Wing) deals with big financial frauds; Central Vigilance Commission deals with corruption. These are the major government agencies that combat frauds of different types. Unfortunately, there is no specialised education provided by any of the Universities in the country. Recently, TCS has also come out with software to combat money laundering and Subex Systems have designed software to combat the telecom frauds. Thus, combating the frauds with software has started picking up in India, with few big companies like ACL and IDEA, joining the race.

The Need For Niche Consulting:

The CPA Vision Statement states: “The CPAs are trusted professionals who enable people and organisations to shape their future. Combining insight with integrity, CPAs deliver value by: (a) communicating the total picture with clarity and objectivity, (b) translating corn plex information into critical knowledge, (c) anticipating and creating opportunities, and (d) developing pathways that transform vision into reality1 It reflects the trend towards providing a broader range of assurance services. However, recent corporate accounting scandals and the resultant outcry for transparency and honesty in reporting have given rise to two disparate yet logical outcomes. First, forensic accounting skills have become crucial in untangling the complicated accounting manoeuvres that have obfuscated financial statements. Second, public demand for change and subsequent regulatory action has transformed corporate governance. Increasingly, company officers and directors are under ethical and legal scrutiny. Both trends have the common goal of responsibly addressing investors’ concerns about the financial reporting system. Indeed, there is a future in forensic accounting as a separate”niche” consulting area in India. The need to specialise, otherwise known as Niche Consulting, is imperative to practising accountants because the fast-paced developments in business thereby demand specialised knowledge and skills. While a majority of CAs have excellent analytical skills, they need to acknowledge that ‘forensic’ services require ‘specialised’ training as well as real-life ‘practical’ corporate experience. There is a need for specialised information, not just audit and tax service. What clients seem to want are people with unique sets of skills and experiences. With the maturing of the audit business, and the rapid development of technology that makes existing services low cost and cheap, it appears that it is the right time now to acquire those unique skills. To help practitioners move into ‘niche’ consulting, some professional organisations in the US have concluded that: “Future success for the profession depends, in part, on how the public perceives the ability of CPAs. New efforts in consulting, specialisation and understanding global business practices and strategies are considered crucial. We go out into the niche market, examining our strengths first. We go where the action is, only then we know we can adequately service our clients and make money doing it.” One area where ‘niche’ consulting is becoming the global trend is in “Forensic Accounting and Auditing’ But the major question facing the Indian accountancy profession is: Are we ready to plunge to where the challenging action is?

Forensic Accounting In India:

It is in an infancy state in India.It is still an untrodden area in India.But due to ever increasing cases of bank & cyber-frauds its growing importance cannot be denied.

One immediate landmark creation is “Forensic Research Foundation”.They provide support for investigation of fraud.They publish one bi-monthly journal named as “White Crimes”.It relates to forensic and economic crimes. Another international organization named as KPNG has set up investigation detection centre in India.. Networks Limited, a Delhi based organization, working in the similar field, they are also trying to innovate ways and means to detect financial irregularities and crimes in India.Serious Investigation Fraud Offices(SIFO), has been established in India for the same reason, i.e. detection and prevention of economic irregularities and crimes. The need for such bodies and the importance of Forensic Accountants have been highlighted by L.N.Roy Committee.Lenin Parekh Committee has also expressed the view that one “fraud detection committee”need to be established. The main aim of such boards should be to prevent the interest of the stakeholders.

Conclusion:

Forensic accounting in India has come to limelight only recently due to rapid increase in white-collar crimes and the belief that our law enforcement agencies do not have sufficient expertise or the time needed to uncover frauds. A large global accounting firm believes the market is sufficiently large to support an independent unit devoted strictly to ‘forensic’ accounting. All of the larger accounting firms, as well as, many medium-sized and boutique firms have recently created forensic accounting departments.

Forensic accounting, in fact, integrates accounting, auditing, and investigative skills to conduct an examination into a company’s financial statements. Broad-based knowledge (within the themes listed above) is crucial to the success of entry-level forensic accountants. Because forensic accounting is relatively a new area of study, a series of working definitions and sharing of corporate experiences should be undertaken and encouraged to ensure a common understanding. Indeed, there is great future in forensic accounting as a separate”niche” consulting.

While the forensic accounting and auditing practice had commenced in the US as early as ‘1995, the seed of this specialisation has yet to take off in India. Forensic accountants are only dealing with financial implications of the cases entrusted to them and not engaging in auditing exercise. On account of global competition, the accounting profession must convince the marketplace that it has the “best-equipped” professionals to perform such services.

Forensic accountants are also increasingly playing more ‘proactive’ risk reduction roles by designing and performing extended procedures as part of the statutory audit, acting as advisors to audit committees, and assisting in investment analyst research.

While majority of CAs have excellent analytical skills, they need to acknowledge that ‘forensic’ services require ‘specialised’ training as well as real-life ‘practical’ corporate experience.

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References: –

1)Journal Of Forensic Accounting: Editor-In Chief: Crumbley D. Larry, Publisher: Inc.Edwards. R.T.

2)Journal Of The Chartered Accountant 2007, Pages: 1000-1010.Dr. Madan Bhasin, The Author is Head, Accounting Department, Mazoon College, Muscat, Sultanate Of Oman.

3)Referential Notes Of Prof. Dutta Kr. Uttam, Reader Deaprtment Of Commerce, Reader, University Of Burdwan.

4)Website access: http://www.wikipedia.com, accessed on 4th, February, 2008.

Factory Accident Risks and Injuries

Factory environments usually include a very large space filled with heavy machinery, specialized equipment, and a large factory worker base. Factory areas can often be crowded, with many activities being performed at once, so following safety protocols and operational procedures is crucial to a smoothly run, accident-free workplace. The high frequency of workers interacting with machines means that, if proper precautions are not taken, disastrous accidents may result.

Safety Hazards

Factory workers are put at risk of injury whenever safety procedures are not followed. The following potential hazards may lead to serious accidents when not dealt with appropriately:

  • Intentionally “cutting corners” on regulations to cut factory costs
  • Accidentally overlooking a safety violation
  • Operating machinery without using proper safety equipment and safeguards
  • Not regularly maintaining heavy machinery and equipment
  • Improperly storing equipment or chemicals
  • Using defective machinery

Potential Factory Accidents and Injuries

When the above safety hazards are not addressed, workers are put at risk of being involved in an accident. Running an unsafe factory leaves open the possibility of accident and injury occurring, which may include:

  • Heavy machinery malfunction
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials
  • Falling objects or overturned equipment
  • Explosions
  • Emergency exit blockage

Most factory workers understand that there is a certain level of risk in their daily work, but like all workers they are entitled to a safe work environment that meets safety regulations. Factory companies are obligated to meet safety standards to keep workers free from harm. If you are a factory worker and have been injured in a factory accident, your employer or the property owner may be liable and you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and related damages.

Learn More

For more information on factory accidents and injury liability, please visit the website of experienced factory accident injury lawyers at the Charles D. Hankey Law Office, P.C. today.

Depletion of Forest Resources

INTRODUCTION

Echo systems around the world help sustain life for millions of species. Echo systems that are mainly forests provide a home for a large majority of the species alive. Therefore the trees in these forests are considered to be the most important species. Although it is true, that most species are not able to sustain without each other.

There are many benefits that we get from our forests. Some of these include cleaner drinking water, a home for plants and animals, economic growth, clean air, recreational opportunities, reassuring future. Another benefit we get from trees is called oxygen. If there were no trees to give us oxygen to breath, we would not be able to live. So if you need one good reason why a forest should exist, staying alive is a pretty good reason.

CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM

Forests have many resources that people can use to raise their living standards. One example is the wood for building houses. Certain wood materials last a long time, they keep the house warm and make it easy to manufacture homes. Unfortunately the world is overpopulating and the demand for a higher standard of living is constantly on the rise. Therefore the demand for more resources is growing to levels that cannot be sustained. Since forests provide a large portion of the world’s resources, many forests are cut down or burned.

The cause for cutting down forests is directly associated with the high demand for wood to manufacture paper products and lumber for other manufacturing. We practically use wood for everything. It is used in home building, marine products, furniture and the list seems like it’s endless. Just look around yourself right now and chances are you will find a product within your reach that is made of wood. Not only is wood a good building material, but it also has great aesthetic qualities. Most people appreciate a nice wooden dining table set or classic wooden rails on a staircase. Unfortunately we don’t always take in to account how many trees need to be cut down so we can have these luxuries in our lives.

Another major direct cause for forest depletion is simply burning forests for farmland. This is more common with countries that are undeveloped and have tropical rainforests. Many poor farmers in these countries burn or cut small portions of tropical forests so they can have room for farming and cattle. But the big scale problem is created when huge corporate farms burn thousands of square acres a year. They need this much room so they can provide farming on a much larger scale to compete in the world market for food. The reason forests are burned for the farmland is due to the rich minerals fertility of the soil.

Unfortunately even the large scale farmers in undeveloped countries are not educated on how they can maximize their results when reusing the soil. Therefore the soil is used up and left as a desert while the farmers burn more forest to make another farm. The Amazon rainforest which is the largest in the world has fallen victim to such deforestations. This forest is located in South America where countries are having tough financial times. Brazil’s market is a third of all the Latin countries included. Yet “Brazil’s foreign debt, except in the most implausible of positive economic circumstances, is simply unsustainable in the years ahead” (CRF.org 2002). Economical pressure on a country is another big cause that will force a country to deforestation such as the case in Brazil. Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative (BSRSI) show data that between 1978 to 1988 230,000 square miles, nearly the size of Texas was affected by deforestation (bsrsi.msu.edu). That is 16.5% of the whole rainforest in the Amazon.

The next example shows the cause of deforestation for farming. According to The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), “Between 1990 and 2001 the percentage of Europe’s processed meat imports that came from Brazil rose from 40 to 74 percent” and by 2003 “For the first time ever, the growth in Brazilian cattle production-80 percent of which was in the Amazon-was largely export driven.” As more roads are built to provide access to forests in undeveloped countries more deforestation is evident.

EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM

As mentioned earlier, we get a large portion of our oxygen from vegetation such as trees. Since most trees live in forests it is important to realize the negative impact deforestation may have on our air quality. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas that has an impact on the greenhouse effect. There is a cycle between CO2 producers such as cars and CO2 consumers such as plants. Together they create the “Global Carbon Cycle”. The plants and soil of tropical forests hold 460-575 billion metric tons of carbon worldwide (McKane et al. 1995). From 1850 to 1990, deforestation worldwide released 122 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, with the current rate being between 1.6 billion metric tons per year (Skole et al. 1998). In comparison, all of the fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) burned during a year release about 6 billion tons per year. Therefore deforestation even when compared to all the other pollution plays a significant role in Global Warming and clean air.

Another extent of the problem with deforestation is a decrease in biodiversity. Biodiversity is important for Ecosystem sustainability, agriculture, medicine, recreation, aesthetic and commercial value. There are about 5 to 80 million species that live on this earth (Lawton and May 1995). Tropical rainforests cover about 7% of the world, but are home to more than half of the species living in the world. After a forest is cut down, many species cannot live without it and possibly go extinct. Since we depend on these species for many resources, their extension will rob us of their benefits. Perhaps we might destroy the next cure for AIDS by deforestation and not know it.

FUTURE

The negative impacts of deforestation are getting noticed internationally. Many countries are taking steps to reduce the problem for a more sustainable earth. Unfortunately financial gain and high competition still exists with deforestation, and for some it’s the only way of survival. Many people are not educated about the long term results their actions may cause. Because of these reasons deforestation is still a reality around the world in many countries.

With more international involvement, countries will take effective steps to bring deforestation to sustainable levels. But there is still a great deal of work to be done. For some forests it is still not too late to bring them back quicker. Other forests that have been clear-cut might take centuries to grow to the original state. Areas where pesticides were used it is possible that the echo system was damaged and may take a long time to grow again. Many forests were replaced by large banana plantations. These plantations use pesticides that kill many species that are vital for an echo system to sustain. Erosion caused by deforestation may bring more water pollution in the future and may affect agriculture in the area. Other reasons for deforestation are simply to provide room for paved roads, residential and commercial development that are caused by urban sprawl. These types of developments permanently destroy forests. Deforestation is a serious threat to life’s future on our planet. It has major effects on our global climate. It leads to the loss of millions of species that are important in sustaining a living earth.

SOLUTIONS

As we discussed the causes for deforestation, we realize how these causes are very different. Because the causes are often controlled by a countries economy, overpopulation and many other social reasons, it is impossible to find one solution to deforestation. Although there are many solutions, it will take time and cooperation of many different groups of people and organizations to make the solutions work.

One popular solution that has been in effect for a few decades is forest conservation. We can work internationally, regionally, and locally with organizations to develop policy and influence industries to help ensure a sustainable future for forests. Conservation helps protect, manage, and restore the world’s most important forests by identifying threats and developing solutions to them.

Decrease the amount of products that are made as a result of deforestation. For example, using materials other than wood to build homes, furniture and other common products made of wood. Encourage recyclable materials so people don’t go back to wood again. Switching from wood to other materials will decrease the demand/supply for wood.

Implement more efficient farming methods to encourage the reuse of land.

Educate people around the world about the negative impacts of deforestation, and what can be done to prevent it. Help finance more educational programs. Help countries make the right economic decisions.

Sign international treaties and make laws/regulations to control annual deforestation.

Import meat and dairy products from markets that do not cause deforestation.

The solution that I believe will be very effective is the second one. As far as cutting down trees, this is a very workable solution. We have too many products that are made of wood today. As economies grow around the world, the middle class will also grow. This middle class will demand more and more products that are made of wood. The American middle class is obsessed with wood products and we don’t even realize it. A large portion of our homes are built from wood, and so is our furniture. Most cabinets alone require so much wood. If we like wood products so will the rest of the world.

The solution is to take the majority of the wood products and find alternative materials to them. This of course is not as easy as it sounds, but it is very doable. Once it is done, it will extremely decrease the demand for wood, therefore reducing deforestation. With such high advances in technology we can travel in space and replace hearts. Therefore it is possible to make materials that are safe for the environment and replace wood. Maybe even make materials that share most of the properties that wood has. We can even invent materials that imitate wood like the “burled wood” in our cars today. This “burled wood” in most cars isn’t even wood anymore, it is some kind of a plastic and a pattern to imitate the look of the wood. Speaking of the auto industry, I can’t believe how advanced our cars have become. These are cars that we drive everyday. Yet we live in new houses that were built with an ancient method of wood and nails. I think that is ridiculous. Perhaps the solution to replace wood with alternative materials will also lead to more efficient assembly methods and a safer environment. And most importantly the first solution is changing our attitude to help prevent deforestation.

The Depletion of Forest Resources is a huge problem with challenging solutions, let us work as a team around the world to help solve these issues.

Forces and Trends in Business

The corporate environment is characterized by a number of variables: competition, dynamism, turbulence, complexity and change. All organizations must develop ability to continuously and consciously transform themselves and their contexts. Such contexts include restructuring for optimum effectiveness, reengineering key processes and streamlining functions that are able to provide a source of competitive advantage. The aim is to adapt, regenerate and most important, survive. (McLean, 2006).

For a company to thrive today, strategists must find ways to increase the organization’s ability to read and react to industry and market changes. They must know their goal to boost the company’s strategic flexibility by recognizing disruptions earlier and responding faster.

Strategic flexibility or adaptability can be defined as the organization’s capacity to identify major changes in its external environments, quickly commit resources to new courses of action in response to such changes, and to recognize and act promptly when it is time to halt or reverse existing resource commitments. Being adaptable means leaders must not get stuck in a too-rigid way of looking at the world. The organization must view change as an inevitable and essential part of an organization’s growth, in order to achieve this adaptability.

When there is uncertainty or unpredictability in the environment, managers tend to focus almost all their energy on successfully executing the current strategy. What they also should be doing is preparing for an unknown future. Flexibility stems from the ability to learn; managers tend to overlook the negative and emphasize the positive. They need to understand not only what led to the positive outcomes but also what led to the negative ones. This will optimize their learning experience. According to Ford (2004) four points to foster and maintain adaptability include challenging complacency, giving all employees a voice, encouraging participative work and driving fear out of your group.

The companies chosen for this task vary by industry: a famous automobile manufacturer (Ford) a bank going through a merger (Compass) and a start-up software company (DawningStreams). Ford and Compass have been in business for a long time; it is likely they have changed their strategic plan based on changing forces and trends. DawningStreams is new (established in 2005 and incorporated in 2007). Even though they have not had their first sale and have no staff, the owners have devised several iterations of their strategy.

There is a diversity of stakeholders all that are interested in the activity of business organizations. Emphasis must be placed on their adaptability in strategic analysis and their adaptability in strategic management of business organizations. The organization must have a strategic management model.

Each company might scan the same areas, but for different reasons. Considering technological advances, Ford would prepare itself to lead the market by having various electronic equipment in their vehicles, as well as robotic equipment with which to build them and the supply chain technology to keep all in check. Compass Bank is going through a merge and expanding globally; therefore they will need to keep abreast of communication technology. DawningStreams is a software company; they will need to monitor those companies who would be their competition to ensure their product offers better functionality. All three companies would make sure potential customers would be able to get good information from internet websites and advertisement, which encompasses yet another area of technology the organizations may need/want to scan. In this instance, many members of the organization must be enrolled: upper management and finance, who will determine budgetary factors; the IT department, who will be responsible for the implementation and maintenance of some of the technology; the staff who must be trained to use the technology; a sales force who will sell the technology.

To the outside observer, it may seem unnecessary for any but Ford to scan the (actual) environment when it comes to issues such as emission control, fuel efficiency and hybrid cars. That is true however; Compass Bank and DawningStreams can plan a strategy to be friendlier to the environment (and their pocketbooks) by practicing paper reduction (through the aforementioned technology). Lastly, DawningStreams’ product may be useful as a file sharing service to environmental groups.

With regard to the legal environment, all three must be acutely aware of laws, which affect their respective industry among others. To Ford, legal applies, among other areas, to environmental protection laws and department of transportation safety laws. To Compass Bank, they would abide by the rules of the Federal Reserve (www.federalreserve.gov) and the Federal Insurance and Deposit Corporation (www.fdic.gov). DawningStreams must follow laws as they pertain to the transfer of files, which have intellectual property and also the export of products, which have algorithms. All three companies are global and will need to monitor those laws in other countries, which could effect the strategic planning.

At one company after another–from Sears to IBM to Hewlett-Packard to Searle, strategy is again a major focus in the quest for higher revenues and profits. With help from a new generation of business strategists, companies are pursuing novel ways to hatch new products, expand existing businesses, and create the markets of tomorrow. Some companies are even recreating full-fledged strategic-planning groups. United Parcel Service expects to spin out a new strategy group from its marketing department, where strategic plans are now hatched. Explains Chairman Kent C. Nelson: “Because we’re making bigger bets on investments in technology, we can’t afford to spend a whole lot of money in one direction and then find out five years later it was the wrong direction.”

In such a world we need a planning model that allows us to anticipate the future and to use this anticipation in conjunction with an analysis of our organization–its culture, mission, strengths and weaknesses–to define strategic issues, to chart our direction by developing strategic vision and plans, to define how we will implement these plans and to specify how we will evaluate how well we are implementing these plans. The fact that the world is changing as we move forward in the future demands that the process be an iterative one.

Ford Motor Company – Socio-cultural

Ford Motor Company embraces the socio-cultural changes taking place to allow the company to move in the right direction with respect to attitudes in the society. Two areas that stand out in terms of socio-cultural attitudes would be that of fuel economy and smaller cars. The growing concern by the public for better fuel economy has influenced the company’s introduction of the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The organization is committed to the hybrid to improve fuel economy as a global strategy to meet customer demands. The increased demand in society for such environmentalism has assisted in the decision for Ford Motor Company to look forward to adding the hybrid feature to the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan and continue in such a strategic planning direction.

The customers that use these vehicles get a substantial break on their insurance in many states and a tax credit as well while enjoying the increased mileage of a vehicle that runs on gasoline and capabilities for 100 percent electric power. The environmental scanning by Ford Motor Company has allowed the company to be knowledgeable of the fact that the people in the United States are buying more small cars today than any other type of vehicle segment. The lifestyles changes have been monitored and there is good data that shows that such a trend will continue in this direction and the expected growth in this segment will continue. The company has redesigned the inside and outside of the Ford Focus to set the car apart from the competitors in the small car segment while increasing upgrades and features to experience positive outcomes. The direction that the company is taking is based on a competitive advantage and being a leader in the industry. The vehicle line has both a sedan and a coupe to attract targeted markets including younger buyers at an entry level to build upon brand loyalty and customer retention. Ford Motor Company will continue to use the socio-cultural factors to drive the business and enjoy future success.

Ford Motor Company – Legal –

Ford Motor Company with regard to the Environmental Protection Agency adheres to the legal aspect of environmental scanning. Ford Motor Company accepted an award in March 2007 from the Environmental Protection Agency called the Energy Star 2007 Partner of the Year Award in Energy Management. The company is the first automaker to have ever been awarded the award two years in a row. The award has come to be presented due to the commitment made by the company to increase energy efficiency and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from all of the facilities in the company.

The organization is committed to the responsible use of resources and energy efficiency. The leadership realizes that the environmental protection laws are of great importance and use the environmental scanning to move in the right direction to obtain future success in the company. In 2006 alone the company has improved the energy efficiency in the United States operations by five percent and saving approximately $25 million with enough energy saved to equal 220,000 homes. The effective energy management protects the environment and reduces the greenhouse emissions. Some of the actions taken by the company include replacing lighting fixtures that use 40 percent less energy and using different low-energy, long-lasting compact fluorescent lamps in the properties to include the plants, corporate offices, distribution centers, and research and development campuses. Due to the environmental scanning that takes place at Ford Motor Company the company will use the information that is collected and continue in this direction. New projects for the company include Fumes-to-Fuel that is a system that converts paint fumes into electricity that is being performed with Detroit Edison along with attempting to consolidate the application of primer, base and clearcoat paint applications into a single application to eliminate the need for separate applications and ovens. In addition to the paint booth emissions Ford Motor Company will continue to rely on alternative energy sources such as landfill gas and wind and solar technologies to power their manufacturing facilities.

Ford Motor Company – Technology –

Another environmental scanning tool that Ford Motor Company monitors and uses would be the technological portion. The company has invested $1 billion in the latest technology for flexible manufacturing. The technology that is involved is in many forms to include wireless technology that is installed on the delivery trucks with supplies to the plant as a monitoring status and improved efficiency to reduce inventory. The flexibility of products in the same plant allows the organization to use the same machinery and process for all areas from body assembly, paint facility, and final assembly. The improved efficiency at the manufacturing facility allows for several vehicle platforms to be built on the same line to produce multiple models and quickly change the vehicle mix, the volume, and options based on customer demand.

The technological changes that are being embraced by Ford Motor Company through environmental scanning enables the company to experience huge cost savings through new product launches and 50 percent reductions in cycle changeovers along with waste reduction. Robots are among the technological changes that are being experienced within the organization to include the 400 from the project that are used to weld and assemble the metal body of the vehicle for stamping and assembly. Artificial intelligence in the form of advanced visions systems and laser tracking systems are used to ensure quality through accuracy and dimension abilities. A multi-million dollar training facility is used to ensure that the workforce has the knowledge, skills, and ability to reap the benefits from the new technology that is being used by the company. The training that is administered includes the new servo-electric weld gun system that identifies the perfect center for welding that has replaced the older and loud air-powered system that used a less sophisticated spring system. The environmental scanning of technology that is performed by Ford Motor Company has allowed the company to have positive outcomes in efficiency while remaining a competitive company in the industry through cost savings and continuous improvement.

Compass Bank- Political –

On February 16, 2007, Compass Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of Compass Bank, announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (NYSE: BBV Madrid: BBVA) (“BBVA”) will acquire Compass for a combination of cash and stock. Compass will become a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of BBVA and will continue to operate under the Compass name. The transaction is expected to close during the second half of 2007, pending customary closing conditions, including necessary bank regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Spain and the approval of the stockholders of both Compass and BBVA.

BBVA, which operates in 35 countries, is based in Spain and has substantial banking interests in the Americas. The transaction will facilitate BBVA’s continued growth in Texas and will create the largest regional bank across the Sunbelt. Upon completion of the transaction, Compass will rank among the top 25 banks in the United States with approximately $47 billion in total assets, $32 billion in total loans and $33 billion in total deposits. In addition, the combined company will rank fourth in deposit market share in Texas with $19.6 billion in total deposits and 326 full-service banking offices.

Compass is a $34 billion Southwestern financial holding company that operates 415 full-service banking centers in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. Compass provides a broad array of products and services through three primary lines of business – Corporate Banking, Retail Banking and Wealth Management. Compass is among the top 30 U.S. bank holding companies by asset size and ranks among the top earners of its size based on return on equity.

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, which has been approved by the board of directors of Compass and the relevant bodies of BBVA, Compass will become a wholly owned subsidiary of BBVA. After closing, BBVA intends to merge its U.S. based banking affiliates – including the former operations of Texas Regional Bancshares, State National Bancshares and Laredo National Bancshares – with Compass.

The aggregate consideration is composed of a fixed number of approximately 196 million shares of BBVA common stock and approximately $4.6 billion in cash. The merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including necessary bank regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Spain and the approval of the stockholders of both Compass and BBVA. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2007.

The merger between both companies will be determined by the political factors ranging from implications of laws and regulations to the state of world politics including the consideration of wars which may be going on in different parts of the world. New laws, regulations, tax programs and public policy create forces and trends, which may provide challenges and barriers or opportunities for any company or organization.

Compass Bank – Technology –

Ford is in the process of implementing a laser marking system on its production line to ensure the highest standard on each transmission assembled. The system will be checking for quality on different points on the assembly line. Ford is teaming up with a company called MECCO to implement this process and a trial run of the new system will last for 3 months. MECCO is a leader in its industry when it comes to laser technology. The decision to implement this new laser marking system came because it is more cost- effective and safer than previous ways of marking checkpoints for quality.

Although this process at Ford has not officially been implemented yet, Compass Bank can learn a few different things. It may be a good idea for Compass Bank to do a short trial of online cell phone banking to see how popular it becomes and if it worth all the time and effort, being spent to get it launched. Compass Bank should also consider investing into a company who is the best at what they do, is in the same time zone, and can meet their demands in a timely manner, not simply because they may be cheaper. Finally, Compass Bank can learn that they need to consider what will be most cost-effective and in the best interest of the company over time. Organizing a time line and a list of costs and potential risks would also be beneficial to Compass Bank so they know what to expect and when with the implementation of online cell phone banking.

When completing the global scan one looks for emerging new technologies which may impact any business in any industry. At one time the emergence of the Internet was a technology that was becoming an emerging trend across all industries. Today very new technologies are used to develop information systems at a fraction of the cost and time of processes that were used five years ago. Wireless is a telecommunications technology that may have moved from a trend to a force in revolutionizing the way information is stored, accessed and used across all industries around the world. Some, if leveraged by a company within an industry before competitors use it, may even provide a competitive advantage.

Compass Bank – Competition –

Although mergers may be costly and rather difficult, the value it creates in the end is the desired outcome companies seek. The eagerness to merge is based on several beliefs, those beliefs are, that the performance gains are greater, expenses are reduced, market power is increased, and shareholder’s wealth is also greater than before. The value of a merger is enhanced when the overall benefit is more valuable than the aggregate of two separate pre-merger companies.

In the end, both John and Bernard should consider this before finalizing a decision. When Zion’s purchased Stockmans, there overall value increased by 43 branches. These branches will help performance and brings much more power to the financial market. In the Journal of Money article, Pilloff states “Companies are more willing to acquire others to avoid being acquired themselves.” Keeping this in mind, companies must figure out a cross border strategy.

As part of the broad environmental scan, it is important to identify the internal capabilities of the organization. There are various models for defining capabilities. Most focus on the broad set of intangible assets such as brand, human capital, organizational capital and even relationship capital. Others include the more concrete assets such as available capital, the organization structure, current technologies and information technology infrastructure. In addition to doing a broad environmental trend, Compass Bank needs to do a more detailed capability assessment using any of the models available.

DawningStreams – Competitors –

Business activities are becoming more and more complex to manage, because of distance, time zones, number of parties involved in projects, number of tasks to achieve, multiple prioritizations, lack of general synchronization, insufficient secure and confidential communication channels and growing complexity of IT infrastructures. The use of task list managers has become very common. It is becoming more difficult to keep teams synchronized, to follow and to implement new business processes and to exchange sensitive information confidentially. The DawningStreams software application is aiming at increasing the practicality of daily executive activities. The types of business, which will most probably be interested in our product, are construction (size of network), consulting (need for synchronization), pharmaceutical research (secure exchange of information) and the software industry (complexity of manufacturing).

Many companies have already developed software applications that enable secured communications and file sharing. However, most, if not all, are relying on Microsoft technologies, which prevent them from expanding to Mac or Unix users. DawningStreams is developed in Java, which can be used on any platform, including Mac and Unix. Microsoft has acquired the Groove Company and has released a new version of the product, which can perform many of the functionalities of DawningStreams, but not generic activities (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/groove/default.aspx). This is our closest competitor by far. More recently, we found, merely by accident, a company called Shinkuro (www.shinkuro.com), which offers the file sharing aspects of DawningStreams but lacks other capacities.

Although DawningStreams will face competition from many existing players, the fact that it will combine a super-set of functionalities in one application, for a very reasonable price, will give it some leading edge over other competitors. If the US patent is granted, the position of DawningStreams will become a niche. Even if the patent were not granted, it would take a profound architectural redesign of Groove (or other competitors) to include generic activities and match the offer of DawningStreams. As a strategy we will monitor the activities of those companies’ websites and understand what they offer in terms of similar functionality and try to ensure we match or best those functionalities to the best of our ability and resources

DawningStreams – Political –

Maintaining the secrecy of information is the fundamental function of encryption items. Persons abroad may use such items to harm US law enforcement efforts, as well as US foreign policy and national security interests. The US Government has a critical interest in ensuring that persons opposed to the United States are not able to conceal hostile or criminal activities, and that the legitimate needs for protecting important and sensitive information of the public and private sectors are met. Since 2000, US encryption export policy has been directed by three fundamental practices: technical review of encryption products prior to sale, streamlined post-export reporting, and license reviews of proposed transactions involving strong encryption to certain foreign government end-users and countries of concern. US encryption policy also seeks to ensure that American companies are not disadvantaged by the European Union’s “license-free zone.” (Bureau of Industry and Security, 2007).

DawningStreams will contain cryptographic functions. Any reliable and efficient cryptographic system requires a central authority to avoid identity theft. Cryptography is a key functionality of DawningStreams. All specialists insist on designing systems using well-studied algorithms and fully tested protocols; novelty is considered a source of risk. The cryptographic layer of DawningStreams will rely on a dual public-private key system. The private key encryption system will implement Rijndael, the Advanced Encryption Standard (http://csrc.nist.gov/CryptoToolkit/aes/rijndael/), the public key system will implement RSA (www.rsa.com) and the hashing function will implement the 256 bits version of the Secure Hash Algorithm (http://secure-hash-algorithm-md5-sha-1.co.uk/ ).

Encryption products can be used to conceal the communications of terrorists, drug smugglers, and others intent on harming U.S. interests. Cryptographic products and software also have military and intelligence applications that, in the hands of hostile nations, could pose a threat to U.S. national security. The national security, foreign policy, and law enforcement interests of the United States are protected by encryption export controls. These controls are consistent with Executive Order (E.O.) 13026, which was issued on November 15, 1996, and the Presidential Memorandum of the same date. (Bureau of Industry and Security, 2007).

DawningStreams also plans to be an international company, as offices now exist in the Netherlands and the US. As part of the strategy, we will ensure we remain compliant by registering our product with any necessary agency and allowing those agencies access to the processes if they feel there is a threat. We will be responsible to monitor (as best as we can) our client base and to put the proper verbiage in our contracts that illegal activities will not be tolerated. We will continue to monitor the BIS site mentioned in previous paragraphs and also sites in the European Union such as the Crypto Law website of legal expert Bert-Jaap Koops (http://rechten.uvt.nl/koops/)

DawningStreams – Technology/Intellectual Property –

The management of organizational strategy requires a comprehensive assessment of the macro environment of the business. Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the original ideas and innovations evolved by an organization in order to haul up its systems and processes. Creation of ideas requires large investments. This necessitates the protection of IP. Benchmarking is the continuous process of measuring products, processes, and systems of an organization against those that are rated best in the industry. It helps in uncovering weaknesses and flaws in the organizational systems, processes, and products. (Watson, 2003)

The study of the global research conducted by McAfee Inc. and MessageLabs Ltd. on security threat in small businesses in the U.S. reveals that 80 percent of small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMB) believe that an information technology (IT) security failure would be damaging in attaining their business priorities. Yet, only few are courageously making steps to fight against infringements due to resource limitations from other business related priorities. The research implies that company size plays an essential part in the way senior management views security. Among the challenges that SMBs face include keeping up-to-date with security solutions and keeping costs low. Small-to-medium businesses’ behavior towards security is very tactical and meets only immediate requirements. (unknown, 2007)

DawningStreams’ relevance to these forces is two-fold. We are a software company—there is an opportunity for us to lose the intellectual property by those who would download and attempt to modify the code. We have competitors who offer functionality similar to ours, however we offer an additional functionality the others do not. It is this ‘specialty functionality’ for which we applied for a patent the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If the patent is granted, there is less likelihood of software piracy or the loss of our IP. Environmental scans should show us if there are other companies trying to do this.

The functionality, which most resembles our competitors’, is the ability to share files. That brings in a different concern with intellectual property- the possibility someone else’s IP could be sent from one of our users to another, as this could seriously damage our reputation, as what happened with Napster. (www.napster.com).

Conclusion

At one company after another–from Sears to IBM to Hewlett-Packard to Searle, strategy is again a major focus in the quest for higher revenues and profits. With help from a new generation of business strategists, companies are pursuing novel ways to hatch new products, expand existing businesses, and create the markets of tomorrow. Some companies are even recreating full-fledged strategic-planning groups. United Parcel Service expects to spin out a new strategy group from its marketing department, where strategic plans are now hatched. Explains Chairman Kent C. Nelson: “Because we’re making bigger bets on investments in technology, we can’t afford to spend a whole lot of money in one direction and then find out five years later it was the wrong direction.”

In such a world we need a planning model that allows us to anticipate the future and to use this anticipation in conjunction with an analysis of our organization–its culture, mission, strengths and weaknesses–to define strategic issues, to chart our direction by developing strategic vision and plans, to define how we will implement these plans and to specify how we will evaluate how well we are implementing these plans. The fact that the world is changing as we move forward in the future demands that the process be an iterative one.

References

Bilek, E. (n.d.) Compass Bankshares to be Acquired by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A.,

Investor Relations. Retrieved from the Internet on March 31, 2007 at

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Cole, Jim. Zions makes small deal, cites growing Arizona market. American Banker, 171(175), 1-1. Retrieved March 31, 2007 from Proquest Database.

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Importance of a Digital Media Agency for Global Businesses

There are many businesses around the world, which are considering the importance of digital marketing domain as a vital way to promote their trades online and find potential customers around the world. Nowadays, many small to large level enterprises are moving online and adopting the benefits of digital media marketing. For this purpose, they are availing services of top-notch digital media agencies in the market. It helps them advertise their businesses over the web and increase clientele across the globe. Here, a digital agency plays can play a significant role to promote the client’s business and take it to the next level of success easily.

Introduction to a Digital Media Agency

Digital media agency is a right step for global businesses, where they get the complete solution for the online branding of their trades. Also, a digital marketing agency helps businesses plan their online marketing campaigns and promote them successfully over the web. A modern digital agency is more effective for online advertisement of business rather traditional digital options like television and print media. Nowadays, every business needs the back of online digital agencies to give a quick growth of the trade over the web. Here, the digital firm can help businesses by fulfilling their digital marketing requirements like website development, designing, SEO activities, PPC, and much more. For managing all the tasks, digital agencies outsource the work to the experts in the market and manage the client’s project smartly. Thus, a digital marketing firm takes the challenge seriously and delivers the optimum result for the businesses under the stipulated time frame.

Types of Digital Agencies

In the competitive digital media industry, you can find different types of digital agencies which can serve you the best digital services for online branding of your business.

Integrated Digital Marketing

It is the agency which keeps track of online branding results of the client’s business. For this, they make the right use of client’s data, analytics, and other online marketing platforms. Also, the agency plans right strategies to improve the client’s website traffic online and track the clicks on it via different sources like mobile, email, and other organic searches of search engines.

Digital Campaign

This agency follows digital advertisement strategies for marketing of client’s business and its products or services. Here, the agency makes the digital campaign so attractive that inspires the viewers to take an interest in it.

Digital Solutions

The modern concept of a digital media agency model is being adopted by businesses of all levels these days. This agency offers the avenues to provide a digital impression to the business model and plan an effective marketing campaign to promote it over the web through digital means.

Tips to find the best digital agency in the market:

  • Do verification of its market value and years of experience in the industry.
  • Explore the type of digital services provided by the agency for successful advertisement of client’s business.
  • Check for reviews and feedback of the agency’s clients.
  • Is there any team of digital media experts’?
  • Check for the qualification and digital media experience of the agency’s personnel.

Thus, above are few necessary tips, which you should follow wisely before availing services of any digital media agency in the market.

Choosing a Solid Copper Tea Kettle or Copper Plated Tea Kettle

Tea lovers for generations have enjoyed the beauty and quick heating characteristics of copper tea kettles. While kettles manufactured or handcrafted from copper have been produced in the United States for decades, most cookware of this type is now manufactured in England, Portugal, India and China. Because of the high cost of genuine copper, many teapots are now copper plated stainless steel.

Solid Copper Tea Kettles

When selecting a new or used solid copper teapot, it is important that the interior lining of the pot be in good condition to avoid a metallic taste which can occur if copper is exposed inside the kettle. Most teapots manufactured from actual copper are lined on the inside with tin or nickel to avoid the metallic taste of copper. With use, the kettle will tarnish or develop an “antiqued” look. If you prefer to keep the teapot shiny on the outside, the exterior of the pot should be regularly cleaned with a high quality non-abrasive metal polish. For quickly cleaning the most stubborn tarnish, Wenol metal polish does an excellent job and leaves a clean polished surface appearance. Never clean the interior of a solid copper teapot with metal polish, metallic scrubbing pads, metal utensils, bleach, vinegar, or harsh cleaners as this can severely damage the interior lining of the pot. Because copper cookware is a fast conductor of heat, solid copper teapots will normally perform well on medium or lower heat settings saving time and energy. Great care should be used to never allow a solid copper tea kettle to boil dry on the stovetop. While most kettles will be damaged by this occurrence, allowing a solid copper kettle to boil dry can severely damage the interior lining of the kettle. A solid copper tea kettle with a scorched or damaged interior lining should not be used. Allowing a solid copper tea kettle to boil dry can also warp or otherwise damage the kettle.

Copper Plated Teapots

Many of the new generation of copper teapots are manufactured from stainless steel with a copper plating and feature rugged construction for everyday use. To eliminate the need for polishing, some (but not all) of the new generation of copper plated stainless steel tea kettles also feature a high temperature exterior clear coat which seals the exterior copper plating to minimize tarnishing. Because the kettle is manufactured from stainless steel, the kettle interior is easy to clean and is resistant to damage.

What Is Turnkey Manufacturing And Why Is It Better?

In this highly globalized and competitive world, there is a constant need to improve the performances and delivery on time so that the company's development is ensured. Most businesses which deal in manufactures prefer to implement this by reducing the costs through various mean including sending the assignments overseas. This is a popular option when the products that are being manufactured will be sold in an international market. However, at times when the resources are not enough to use overseas manufacturing facilities, a very attractive option that the companies have is the turnkey manufacturing. Turnkey manufacturing is the process of manufacturing products at a place that is closer to home as it saves money and time.

Turnkey manufacturing has been a very viable option for companies who do not have enough resources to send their work abroad. Though the labour outside is cheaper, it does not help the company save much, as the costs of other factors increase to a great level. These factors include the customs, the tax and the duties, extra fees charged by the international representatives and the ones that are in the country where the item is being manufactured, acquiring licenses, and cost of transportation, inter-modal handling and other less important expenditures. To avoid the extra strain on the resources that the company has, turnkey manufacturing proves to be a great solution as all of these expenditures are not present.

Another great advantage about the turnkey manufacturing is that it is implemented very quickly and saves a lot of time for the company. There are a number of companies that provide turnkey services and they have offices placed very strategically around the world to facilitate the process. It not just saves time, but it also provides the companies a complete manufacturing set up which includes providing supply chain services as well as manufacturing assignments. These services include assembly line production, acquisition of the materials required, testing the manufactured objects and ensuring they are at an optimal level, and providing after market services and also providing the very important warranty support. All these features make turnkey manufacturing, a very popular and sought-after form of production. Some of the companies which provide this service also deal in giving their clients the product design services. There are a few companies which use this model of manufacturing right from the beginning, as their company is dependent on innovative products rather than the ones that are infrastructure-intensive.

Above all this, turnkey manufacturing also helps the companies in avoiding risk and keeping a low overhead. There are a number of risks involved in sending the work overseas. These include physical risks, intangible currency problems and variations in the exchange-rate. Other problems are the ones pertaining to the inefficient management control that could lead to heavy losses, and loss of intellectual property. All these risks might sound small but can be very damaging for the company's progress. Turnkey manufacturing lowers down these risks considerably, proving to be a better option of manufacturing. Above all this, the two great advantages of this type of manufacturing are: 1) Increased ability to meet the market demands by moving quickly. 2) The ability to use all the latest technological innovations without having any sort of high expenditure. These advantages and low-risk features make turnkey solutions an important service.