Sunday, September 30, 2007

CEO Geeks Rule

Dan Morrill (Security Project Manager)

If you ever doubted it, then you need to go over to the Business Week article that talks about the early integration of IT in business, and how CEO's who get it, who label themselves as computer geeks get their businesses growing faster than folks who do not.

While companies have many strategies to make them grow, in many of the companies that we have seen, IT is still off in its own corner, and not really integrated into the business. Business asks for things, IT says no, security says no, rather than try to make some kind of process where the decision is about risk management, rather than simply no.

Yes-73% of the "total geeks" reported double-digit average annual growth in their businesses over the past five years. Close to half-48%-of "total geeks" also reported that their businesses reached the 100-employee milestone within five years of launch, compared to one-third of all survey respondents.
We also found it was important to integrate IT into a company's business strategy early. The survey found that, while 98% of respondents said their company had a defined IT strategy as a small business, those who viewed IT as a "strategic or competitive resource" tended to grow faster than CEOs who said they "spent just enough" to ensure that employees could do their jobs. Plus, 18% of respondents said that "not integrating technology into our business strategy sooner" was their biggest IT mistake over the years. Source: Business Week

Many management articles will always say that people need to keep IT in the business, and that business should be an active participant in IT, and IT should be an active participant in business. The ability to do so it widely debated, but has a simple outcome. If you want to have a better company, IT is a base resource, that must be leveraged to make better decisions, grow the company faster, and generally support the business.

There are few real studies that back up this assertion, so the new one quoted by business week should be on every manager's desk this morning. Especially if the IT department is estranged from the company. Something to think about, grow faster by incorporating IT better, or grow slower by letting IT be on its own in some small dark corner of the company.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More Priorities, Less Likelihood of Implementation

by Tim Berry

I wish I had data to prove it, but I will say that I've seen it over and over again for 30-some years: in business planning, three to five priorities work, and 10 or 20 priorities doesn't work. In fact, it's a classic inverse relationship: the more priorities, the less likelihood of implementation.Strategyisfocus

Even without data, there is the anecdotal value of how many business plans I've dealt with. The illustration here is a slide I've been using in presentations since the 1980s.

It's a classic inverse relationship. If one goes up, the other goes down. Like traffic and speed, clouds and sun, or teenagers in the household and money in the parents' pocket.

There's an obvious reason. Planning is about people and management, and people and management is about knowing when to say yes and when to say no. Priorities are sometimes about having to say no, we can't do that distracting other thing, we have to do this important first thing. That boils down to a matter of priorities.

Priorities are manageable when there are three, four, maybe five of them; but they are meaningless when there are 10 or 20. Who is going to believe the importance of not doing something just because it's not a priority when there are 20 priorities already? What's wrong with a 21st?

The opposite is focus. I've seen some real successes in business planning when the priorities made sense and the entire company was able to understand the priorities and focus down hard on them. Example? Apple Computer grew from an unmeasurable market share to 15% and from $180 million annual sales to $1.5 billion from 1991 to 1994 mainly by focusing on two key priorities: work with major Japanese companies as allies and develop the differentiation of the graphic operating system as a tool for using Kanji characters.

Thanks to Seth Godin for reminding me of this today with his post The Power Of Chunking. "There really is a rule of seven," he says, "when it comes to putting ideas into your head." I'm saying less than seven in this business planning context, but Seth is in a much broader context. And, at the end, he adds:

Seven is probably too many bullets. Three is more like it.

Three we can handle. Three is manageable and memorable and actionable. Give me three things and I can find a place for them in my brain. Each of those three things can probably have three subthings if you like. And then, at least for now, that's it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tariff rates at tip of your cursor

The Star online News

Tariff rates at tip of your cursor

KUALA LUMPUR: Traders in the manufacturing industry will no longer have to deal with the tediousness of manually looking up information on tariffs through books or CDs, which may also only contain dated information.

They can now use the online search portal Tariff Finder Online (TFO) to find up-to-date and accurate information on tariffs.

The web-based portal was officially launched recently by Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

“There is a lot of data on tariffs, but the problem is getting hold of the information at the right time,” said Soon Koi Voon, CEO.

At present, he said, anyone who wants to import or export goods would have to call up the Customs department or manually sift through tariff books and CDs for information.

“And very often, you’ll need to cross-reference more than one book or CD – it’s a time-consuming process,” he said.

TFO is targeted at manufacturers (who are involved in the import of components), importers, exporters, distributors and freight agents.

According to Soon, TFO was developed locally through a partnership with independent software vendor In-Glow Technologies Sdn Bhd.

“We took only three months, from the time of conception to completion, to develop the entire system,” he said.

TFO was built on Microsoft .NET framework, and uses both SQL Server and Windows Server.

Tyson Dowd, Microsoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd senior director of local software economy, likens TFO to the “Suez Canal” for the customs industry in the country.

“It is virtually the entire database of the Malaysian Custom tariff rates consolidated into a single web-based platform,” he said.

“With a click of the mouse, traders can now search for information – it will ensure greater efficiency for the industry,” he said.

TFO’s database contains entire tariff rates of the Malaysian Customs for more than 8,800 items under Harmonised Systems, and more than 12,600 under the Asean Harmonised Tariff nomenclature codes, according to

Ironing out inefficiencies
“There are a lot of inefficiencies in the supply chain industry, many of which are not due to poor business processes or weak management, but because information is not available at the right time and place,” said Datuk Paul Low, FMM vice-president and chairman of

He said supply chain processes in the country are often not integrated with warehousing, sales and suppliers, although they should be.

“As long as we have these inefficiencies, we will waste time and be unable to manufacture and ship products in minimal time,” Low said.

“Also, because tariffs now vary from country to country, the business of import and export has become more complicated,” he said.

Low said it has become harder to keep track of the latest tariff reductions. “If you’re overseas and you want to check for information on tariffs in Malaysia, you would have to make numerous calls or buy books from here,” he added.

Avoiding confusion
According to Ken Wong, In-Glow Technologies managing director, there are two concerns when importing goods – if a duty or tariff needs to be paid, and if an import licence is required.

“To find the answer, you will first need a tariff code,” he said. “If you do not have years of experience in the manufacturing industry, you’ll have a hard time looking for tariff codes because the terms used in this business are not the same as those a layman uses,” said Wong.

For example, a layman who wants to find the tariff code for cars might simply search for the word, although the typical term used is “vehicle,” he said.

TFO has a smart search feature which enables a person who is not familiar with manufacturing jargon to find the proper tariff codes easily.

“You just need to key in a word, and the smart search feature will provide suggestions of what it thinks you are looking for,” said Wong.

TFO also comes with multilingual support. “Misinterpretations often occur in classifications, which might cause an importer to pay the wrong duties and get fined for it,” he said.

For example, if someone wants to look up tariff codes for importing live fish, he might come across the word “fry,” which is a classification for immature fish.

But the word “fry” may have an ambiguous meaning, Wong said, especially to those who are not well-versed in English.

“The finder can check boxes for Chinese and Malay, and the site will display the translated word in these languages on the same page,” he said.

Pay to use
Traders who are interested in using TFO will have to register at the website, and pay a registration fee of RM200 (per user).

A one-day pass costs RM20 while a 12 month subscription costs RM600.

“We also have corporate rates for companies that want to register multiple users,” Soon said.

But those who just want to preview some of TFO’s features without registering, can log in with the username and password “demo,” he said.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Understanding Employees

3 Ways to Make Employees Miserable

I just listened to an HBR Ideacast interview with Patrick Lencioni, author of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Here's a quote:Miserablejob

A friend of mine was a waitress in college ... she said her and her friends would come to work and complain all the time about the people who came into the restaurant because they stayed too late, or they made a mess ... and they always wanted to get out of there as fast as they could. Finally their manager sat down with them and said 'look at these people who come here. These are people who are celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, or who are coming in to meet an old friend, or who have a stressful life and they need to go someplace where they can actually relax and get a good meal. We are the conduits of that. Everyone who comes in here has a story. Our job is to help them make this the best experience possible.'

He was sincere in that. After a while these waitresses starting coming to work with a different sense of purpose. During the breaks and after work they would talk about the different events they'd served, and the people who came into the restaurnat. He turned what looked like a crummy job into a vocation. All people deserve that.

Notice the way his story puts it, that the waitresses deserved to have meaning in their job. It isn't about how their manager tricked them into working harder, it's about how he gave them relevance. Irrelevance, he goes on to say, is one of the three signs. People deserve to have their jobs matter. Good companies, and good managers, need to give them that level of satisfaction.

Who does the administrative assistant help? Her boss. Yet her boss is probably reluctant to acknowledge the impact that he or she has on his or her life because they don't want to seem selfish, so they fail to really sit down and say do you realize how much better my personal and professional life is because of you? Do you know every thing you do for me makes me happier and less stressed?

Every employee needs to know that there is somebody out there that they serve, and when we don't let people know that, we deprive them of a fulfilling job.

This irrelevance is the second of the three signs. The first is anonymity:

People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone who is in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.

The third is a coined word, immeasurement. It reminds me of what I called metrics in a recent post on this blog.

All human beings in any kind of a job need some way to assess their own performance that's objective. It might not be numerical or easily quantitative, but it's somewhat objective and observable by them, because then they are not left to depend upon the opinion or the whim of a manager once a year during a performance appraisal. People need to be able to go home from work every night, or every week, or every month, and know where they stand, and know what they can do to influence how they're working. this is why sales people are generally very satisfied in their job, because they have very clear evidence of their performance. Most people think they are coin operated, but in fact a quota is a wonderful scoreboard for them evaluating themselves, and all people need that.

Sometimes it requires a manager to be very creative in how they come up with that. In my book this one guy works at the drive through window in a fast-food restaurant and the manager helps him realize that the best way he can measure the impact of his success is to find how many times he can make somebody smile or laugh that comes through his line. So he writes down or records for himself how often he can do that.

We have to give people that sense that they have some measure of control.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cash Flow Magic

Run Silent, Run Deep, Run Out of Money

I'm posting this today with a double purpose, I admit, because in about two hours I'm going to be giving a workshop at the annual Small Business Development Center convention in Denver, on the topic of "Teaching Cash Flow."

The win here, I think and hope, is to distinguish between planning cash flow and teaching cash flow. Those are separate problems.

The most important problem is getting people who haven't been running companies to believe that cash flow and profits are different. That's just so important because it doesn't add up. It isn't believable.

I developed business planning software originally as templates for business planning clients to deal with the following amazingly typical exchange:

Me: so if you grow faster, then you'll need to get more financing.
They: no, that can't be true, because we're profitable. We make money with each sale, so the more we sell, the more we can fund ourselves.
Me: bingo! Please sit down here for a few minutes and deal with these numbers.

And so it would go. As soon as you're managing inventory or selling on credit -- which means about any sale to business -- then your cash flow is waiting on the wings, a silent killer, to foul you up.

I learned this first in business school and then forgot about it. I learned it later again, the hard way, when Palo Alto Software sales tripled in 1995 and that nearly killed the company. Why? How? Well the huge sales increase was selling software product through traditional channels of distribution, meaning stores, and that means selling to distributors who then resell to stores, and that means that it can take five months between selling the product and being paid for the product. In the meantime, you've got to make payroll and pay your vendors.

Yes, it's a good problem to have, we all want to increase our sales and profits, but it's a whole lot easier to deal with if you plan the cash implications well.

Today in my presentation I'm going to use one of my favorite metaphors, the Willamette River as it runs through Eugene , Oregon, which is where I live. The river slows down coming out of the cascades and into Eugene, and it looks deep, slow, and peaceful; but it's much more dangerous there than when it's throwing up white water through the rapids. Why? Because it seems so calm and welcoming. People disrespect its currents, get caught in weeds, branches, or rocks, and ... well that's a good metaphor for the way cash flow hits small business when things are good, when sales are growing.

What's particularly painful about the cash flow problems that come with growth is that, precisely because there is growth, these problems can be prevented by planning. We've had growth spurts since then that were far less painful because we understood the dangers of cash flow, planned for the cash implications of growth, and worked with our bank ahead of time to make sure the working capital was there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WCIT expected to rake in RM500m for Malaysia

MYT 12:36:58 PM

WCIT expected to rake in RM500m for Malaysia

NEW YORK: Malaysia's hosting of the 16th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT 2008) is expected to bring in about RM500mil for the country.

This was the projected economic impact in the short term as a result of trade deals, hotel stay, and food and beverage consumption, among others, said Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha.

"The estimate is based on the experiences of past host cities such as Taipei and Adelaide," he said.

The congress, often known as the Olympics of the ICT World, will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from May 18 to 22 next year.

Kong said it would be the ministry's biggest IT undertaking so far.

"Our winning the rights to host the congress is by itself recognition that Malaysia has made it on the global IT map," said Kong, who was here to attend the United Nations' Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UNGAID) meeting. He also met with several US firms to promote WCIT 2008 to them.

Supported by the ministry, the biennial WCIT congress is expected to be attended by 2,000 delegates from about 80 countries.

"Sponsorship of the event, through various means, is targeted to reach RM30mil in value," Kong said.

Its highlight is the business forum in which Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and Dell’s chief information officer Stephen F. Schuckenbrock are confirmed speakers.

Kong also said that Malaysia had just been confirmed as the host of a UN Global Alliance for ICT for Development-initiated meeting which would be attended by science and technology ministers throughout the world.

"These ministers will have a dialogue with industry leaders, NGOs and academicians on ways to ensure ICT for development policies are effectively implemented," he said.

The meeting will be held on the sideline of the WCIT 2008, in which CNBC is the international broadcast partner.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Crystal Ball and Chain

The Crystal Ball and Chain

This is an answer to a question I get way too often. I call it the "Crystal Ball and Chain" problem. I've run into it several times as I've introduced the planning process into a new company or organization.

People in the organization sometimes fear business planning. In the background, the fear is related to accountability and commitment. Usually they don't realize it. They state their objection as:

"But how can I possibly know today what's going to happen six months from now? Isn't that just a waste of time? Can't it actually be counter-productive, because it distracts us, and we spend time trying to figure out things in the future?'

I've heard this from some people who really did seem to be worried about accountability and commitment, and I've heard it from some who were stars on the team, not worried at all about their own position, but legitimately worried about the best thing for management and getting work done.

The answer is that projecting future business activities isn't a ball and chain at all, because in the right planning process the existence of the plan helps you manage effectively.

Here's a concrete example: it's September and you are developing your plan for next year, which includes an important trade show in April. You plan on that trade show and set up a budget for expenses related to that trade show. Even though it's September, you have a pretty good idea that this will happen in April.

When January rolls around, though, it turns out that the trade show that normally takes place in April will be in June this year. Does that mean the plan was wasted time? Absolutely not! It is precisely because you have a plan running that you catch the change in January, move the expense to June, and adjust some other activities accordingly.

In this example, the plan isn't a brick wall you run into or a ball and chain that drags you down; no, it's a helpful tool, like a map or even a GPS device, because it helps you keep track of priorities and manage and adjust the details as they roll into view.

It's normal for the crystal ball and chain to appear as an objection when a planning process is introduced. The solution is simply good management. The people involved in implementing the plan learn with time how regular plan review sessions help them stay on top of things, and when assumptions change, how the plan changes. Changes are discussed, nobody gets fired, and you have better management.

The underlying idea here is directly related to the paradox in a previous post: business plans are always wrong, but still vital to good management.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Manufacturing sector to expand 3.1% this year

Manufacturing sector to expand 3.1% this year

The manufacturing sector is expected to grow 3.1% this year, supported by domestic-oriented industries, particularly chemicals and chemical products, food and, construction-related industries.

For the first six months of the year, softer external demand, particularly for electrical and electronic products, textiles and apparels as well as machinery and equipment affected the overall performance of the sector.

The sector grew by 0.5% compared with last year's 8.8% during the same period.

Output in the domestic-oriented industries grew 5.3% while export-oriented industries contracted 1.9% during the first six months.

Despite the contract, export-oriented industries continue to remain as a major contributor to the total manufactured output.

The chemicals and chemical product industry, including agricultural and industrial chemicals, cosmetics and toiletry products, paint and soap is a significant contributor to the manufacturing sector.

For the first six months of the year, output of the construction-related industry continued to expand significantly by 30.8% due to strong growth in basic iron and steel and structural metal products.

Output of the food products industry grew significantly by 12.7%, driven by higher output in processing and preserving of fish and fish products, which grew by 27.1% in tandem with increased marine fish landings.

Output of the off-estate processing industries, comprising mainly palm oil and rubber contracted by 7.8%, constrained by supply of latex and crude palm oil.

The plastics products industry registered a decline in output and sales of 3.6% and 0.7% respectively due to lower demand for components from electrical and electronics (E&E) and transport equipment industries and lower supply of petroleum feedstock.

While export-oriented industries contracted in the first six months of they year, following the downtrend in global demand for E&E products, that fall was mitigated by strong growth recorded in the medical, optical and scientific instruments, and resource-based industries.

Output of the E&E industry declined by 5.6% in weak global demand.

The rubber-based industry however continued to register growth of 8% contributing 3.9% share to total manufacturing output.

Output of medical, optical and scientific instruments also posted strong growth of 10% in the first six months of the year.

In line with lower production of crude oil, output of petroleum products grew moderately by 8.6% in the same period.

The production of textiles, apparels and footwear industry declined by 10.1% for the six months due to a contraction in output of textiles and apparels as a result of stiff competition from low-cost producing countries.

Meanwhile, production of machinery and equipment industry including air conditioning, refrigerating and ventilating machinery, contracted by 13.7% during the first six months of the year.

Plans spell win-win situation, say IT industry players

Plans spell win-win situation, say IT industry players

PETALING JAYA: Plans aimed at boosting broadband penetration in the country, as announced in the Budget, will be well received, according to information technology industry players.

They said that giving employers who provide staff with computers and broadband Internet facilities a tax deduction helped create a win-win situation.

"The employers will benefit from tax savings and there will be a strong spill-over effect," said David Wong, chairman of the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom).

He said if employers bought PCs for their employees, they would bring the machines home.

"This will give their family members the opportunity to use these computers.

"We have a 26% household PC penetration (in a population of 27 million). This move would increase that rate," he said.

To further improve broadband penetration, the Government is providing companies that offer last-mile network facilities a significant incentive.

Such companies will get an investment allowance of 100% on capital expenditure incurred for broadband infrastructure, up to Dec 31, 2010, and should increase broadband penetration from 12% to 50% by then.

Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, chief executive officer of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), believes the move will alleviate the financial burdens of these service providers.

"They have to spend huge amounts of money initially and may only see profits after a few years," he said.

The Government has also allocated RM15mil to be spent on programmes to educate rural folk on the benefits of using information and communications technology (ICT).

In addition, telecommunications industry regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will spend RM45mil to provide Internet services to rural schools.

Companies undertaking ICT activities outside the country's cyber-cities and cyber-centres are also being encouraged to move into these areas.

The Government will discontinue its incentives for companies located outside these cyber-cities and cyber-centres.

Wong, however, said he was surprised by the announcement.

"This is a step backward. Incentives should be extended to companies outside cyber-cities and cyber-centres.

"But then again, there are many such cyber-centres coming up, so relocating shouldn't be a problem," he said.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Adding premium to E&E industry

The Economic Report from Star online.

Greater economic benefit can be realised if the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry progresses to higher value segments.

Despite Malaysia's long reliance on the industry, local manufacturers have largely confined themselves to the low value-added segment of the industry.

The section titled "Upscaling Malaysia's Electrical and Electronic Industry" said that with the sector contributing significantly to the manufacturing sector, significant revenue increases could be reaped by moving up the value chain.

Towards this, the Government has initiated strategies focusing on semiconductor clusters, leveraging on information and communication technology (ICT) and enhancing R&D capabilities.

It also talks about developing human resource and the creation of centres of excellence.

In addition, with increasing focus on design and development elements of the value chain, it is anticipated that the import bill for intermediate products can be reduced.

In the long run, involvement in higher value-added activities of the E&E value chain will allow Malaysia to establish international brands and link up with the global supply chain.

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the E&E industry and the electronics sector in particular has been targeted as one of the key industries to move towards a higher level of technology adoption and to produce greater value-added outputs.

In this regard, the E&E cluster in the Northern Corridor Economic Region comprising Penang and Kulim High Technology Park (KHTP) will be further developed.

The synergies arising out of locating related companies operating along the entire E&E value chain will enable them to optimise benefits and minimise costs.

A privately initiated high-tech electronics hub will also be established to complement KHTP.

The presence of multinational companies (MNCs) in the industry will remain significant, nevertheless, as local manufacturers have developed the skills and expertise to support the MNCs requirement for parts and components.

The Third Industrial Master Plan (IMP3) will also provide a clear plan of action to move the industry up the value chain.

Among the strategies under the IMP3 is the strengthening of institutional support, including a comprehensive package of support schemes to encourage investments, as well as expanding the role and functions of industry associations.

The IMP3 will promote new and emerging technologies in biotechnology, cognitive technology and nanotechnology that it expects to further strengthen the E&E industry.

Meanwhile to leverage on new and emerging technologies, the Government – in collaboration with the industry - will also establish the Electronic Industry Advisory Panel to spur the development of such technologies as well as identify local companies capable of applying them.

The industry should also ride on advancements in ICT and make use of Internet facilities as well as convergent products, such as personal digital assistants, to enhance performance.

To intensify R&D, particularly in higher revenue generating activities in design and fabrication, several agencies will actively provide R&D and commercialisation funds.

Malaysia Technology Development Corp, Multimedia Development Corp and Malaysia Biotechnology Corp are already actively engaged in providing financing with the Techno Fund, Inno Fund and Technology Acquisition Fund for the development of significant design and indigenous R&D capability and technologies.

These agencies would also encourage the creation of Malaysian-owned multinational electronic companies.

Another aspect is the development of human resource.

To sustain R&D capability and enhance innovation through design and product development, significant investment in human capital development is a pre-requisite.

Several programmes have been put in place to facilitate human resource development for the E&E industry.

Various "microsystem" programmes jointly developed with world-class design centres such as the Toppan Technical Design Centre, Japan and the Silicon Valley Institute and IPC in the United States are already being offered.

In addition, the Malaysian Institute of Microsystems under the Selangor Human Resource Development Centre has established an advanced technology centre of learning for design development and innovation particularly in IC design.

In terms of funding, Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Bhd, which manages the Human Resource Development Fund helps to defray the training costs incurred by the industry.

Another strategic initiative by the Government for the strengthening of the sector is the creation of Centres of Excellence.

These centres will be responsible for providing technology support, R&D facilities, incubators for start-ups, market intelligence and access to funding for the industry.

Under the IMP3, measures will also be introduced to promote the specialisation of R&D by creating Centres of Excellence in public universities.

Specifically, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has been designated for microelectronics, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Multi-media University for ICT, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for micro-electro-mechanical system and Universiti Malaya for photonics.

In line with the mandate given, USM spearheaded the upgrading of the Collaborative Micro-Electronic Design Excellence Centre (CEDEC) into a Centre of Excellence, comprising seven universities with USM as the secretariat.

The CEDEC initiative towards the value-added aspiration for the nation's E&E industry includes increasing the pool of IC designers, supporting fabrication foundries by creating local clusters of design houses and enhancing university design skills in fabrication.

CEDEC will also encourage local fabless start-ups through strengthening development and technological capabilities as well as to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit to spawn start-ups.

In addition, it will build up systems design capabilities through developing hardware and software design engineers.

CEDEC has already enabled collaboration and coordination in design activities amongst its members.

In order to further enhance this cooperation, the Fabless Malaysian Integrated Circuit Design Association was formed in June.

The two bodies are expected to fast track the upgrading of design activities as well as grooming more Malaysian designers and product developers.

The IMP3 targets an industry growth rate of 7.2% or RM5.5bil per annum, with a total approved investment of RM82.4bil by 2020.

With total approved investment in the industry of RM8.2bil in the first half of 2007, Malaysia is on track to achieve this target.

Personality Types in work place

MGMT VISIONS - Personality Types - Sep 10, 2007

Tim Bryce (Management Consultant)


Real Player version MS I.E. version MP3 Podcast version iTunes version BLOG

In this week's "Management Visions" broadcast, my essay is entitled "PERSONALITY TYPES," which is an excerpt from my new book, "Morphing into the Real World" (ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4). Describes the four types of personalities commonly found in the work place.

My "Pet Peeve of the Week" is "Sisters" and we also have our "Letters to the Editor."

"Management Visions" is a weekly broadcast on subjects pertaining to Information Resource Management (IRM). It is available in the following file formats: RealMedia (RM) and Windows Media Audio (.WMA file), both for "streaming" audio, and MP3 for Podcasts and for other audio devices. The broadcast is updated on Sundays. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

You can find "Management Visions" at:

Please feel free to bookmark this address or put it in your "favorites" folder.

BLOG: To review the transcript of our show and post comments, see our "Management Visions" blog at:

I hope you will "tune in."

For a complete listing of our "PRIDE" Special Subject Bulletins, please see:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tim Bryce
Managing Director
M. Bryce & Associates (MBA)
a division of M&JB Investment Company
Palm Harbor, FL, USA
Yahoo! IM: littleleaguerng
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Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Many reasons why Microsoft is Not Doomed

Many reasons why Microsoft is Not Doomed

Dan Morrill (Security Project Manager)

We are not Microsoft fanboys, nor are we Linux fanboys, so there is no particular stake here at all, yet we just have to rebut the idea of "7 reasons Microsoft is doomed", and look at the Channel 9 answers on the "7 reasons Microsoft is not doomed".

We all love to hate the big lad on the street, and there is no doubt that Microsoft has its issues just like any other big company, pick one at random, IBM (who was going to die in the 1980's), Sun (who was going to die in 2000), Yahoo (who is supposed to die this year), Coke (who is always going to die because Pepsi is cleaning their clocks), Nintendo (because their new box was not hard core enough, we are sure there are people laughing at that one), Sony (because the PS3 is in 3rd place and they love root kits), there are a million ways that a company can die, and there are a million groups that will secretly rejoice in their death.

This is why we have the techcrunch dead pool

Microsoft is not about to join them any time soon, yes they are big, yes they are increasingly slow to respond, yes they make mistakes, and yes they seem arbitrary and capricious at times. This is just the lay of the land in a big company. Companies need to take risk, Xbox, Zune, surface, IIS, yes they are all risks, but they also have their fans and adherents. Yes the products could be better, and yes apache still wins in the web server market, but they also don't own the whole market, there is room for more than one player.

They might have only a couple of cash cows, but they have more than one, and they still have a lot of cash, and like all good companies see the need to experiment and take risk to make more cash cows. No one can fault Microsoft for the level of experimentation they are willing to go to. When the surface computer debuted, many people wanted it, and wanted it in a tablet or PC format. It will probably happen, because risk is good, change happens, and Microsoft still thrives on change.

Most blue chip companies get to a point where their stock stays static; the stability of the stock price goes along with a certain girth of company, and frankly a certain age of company. While it would be great to harkens back to a smaller more nimble Microsoft where their stock split and growth was at double digits, you don't and cannot get that kind of growth in a multi billion dollar company, economics does not work that way.

Dell, HP, and others are struggling, they are in trouble in many ways, as margins get razor thin on computers, they need to sell more to make up in volume for what they are not making on each PC. This is the reality of the commodity market; commodity goods never have great margins. Vista is just one way to sell a PC, so is XP, so is Ubuntu, they have to sell lots to make money, they are also going to experiment to see what sells.

Realistically it is far too easy to poke holes in the argument presented by Geeks and Technology, we recommend more college, some real look at economics of the computer industry, and a better understanding of the computer industry around them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Whether ERP Needed for you ?

michael.panosh writes:
8/31/2007 #
As a successful ERP vendor we continually come across the issues raised by Eric, especially in our so called mid-market or SME customers. Interestingly, there are a few consistent reflections shared by many managers and business owners during our discussions that we have collated into a 'things to think about' list.

First up, as Eric states, the most important question is "What business problem are you trying to solve?" Unless you know this any effort - ERP or DIY - is doomed from the start. So consider:

* Can your company pinpoint and cost the Top Five business issues?
* How do you know the business will be more effective with an ERP solution?
* Are your competitors doing this?
* Can you grow business profitability using your current tools and methods?

As you answer these questions you will be better placed to talk to ERP vendors. But to reiterate, understanding the business problem is critical, as ERP vendors cannot easily implement an effective solution if the objective is unclear.

Fortunately, vendors can be the best resource to determine your business problems, as their staff should be intimate with the challenges of your industry. Presentations by their presales staff will typically declare broad industry issues then drill into details of specific issues relevant to you. In many cases these may surprise you, as the vendor will speak to as many people in your company as possible to uncover examples of where their system can add significant value. The best part is that vendors usually do this for free as part of their opportunity qualification, potentially saving you from hiring consultants to discover and document basic business issues and limitations.

Expect this process to be iterative - you will learn things about ERP that you can use to ask better questions about ERP.

And while there is no magic bullet solution that is applicable to all companies, there are a number of common aspects of an ERP system and the implementation team that you should consider:

Functionality: Functionality is the heartbeat of an ERP vendor's product. It will drive your competitive advantage so ensure that the solution has all of the functionality you need to trade right now, plus the features you would love to implement if you ever had the time.

Of course, you need to trade off practicality here as well. For example, think very carefully about any solution that requires more than about 30% customisation - having to write custom functionality for you adds complexity and cost and will make upgrades more difficult. And negotiate extra hard if the vendor is offering you some kind of "R&D rebate" where you become the test case for functionality that they actually want to put in their product. Make no mistake, agreeing to this may seem OK at the time, but you are a guinea pig with all the risk and effort that entails (and put a rider in the contract to ensure you are well compensated should they bail out of the project part way through because it is not working out as they expected).

Flexible and Integrated: The solution should be modular so that you can build it up over time, but fully integrated so all modules communicate with each other. That way you can be assured the system can at least deliver on the promise of faster access to business information and streamlined business processes. It should also cater for your business processes without breaking the underlying functionality.

While vendors will promote how they can implement industry best practice, as Eric notes you need to maintain your competitive edge - there is no benefit in adopting your competitors' business model if you currently beat them by being innovative in the way you trade.

In particular, be wary of larger ERP vendors who want to sell you an "industry template" version of their software. These templates seem to be great value as they are usually presented as a cost-effective option that will streamline the implementation process and reduce the risk to your business. However, such templates are typically based on the way their large enterprise customers work, not how SME companies operate and play to the needs of the vendor not you as a customer.

Indeed, in an interview with Datamation, Frank Gens, Senior Vice Ppresident at research firm IDC, made the observation that the large IT vendors attempting to penetrate the SME market "will need to shift more than the size of the products...they’ll need to transform their corporate culture."

As Gens notes, "The business model for those [big] companies traditionally is a relatively small number of very big deals. And to now change your approach, and your operations, and your strategies, is quite a culture shift and a business shift. We’ll see how they do."

He concludes that "History has shown that it’s much easier for the small guys to scale up than for the large guys to scale down."

In a similar vein, be wary of "best practice" templates from large vendors - these work well for highly rigid, fully repeatable legislative or industry compliance issues - such as tax reporting or electronic trading catalogues - but not so well for SME customers who don't tend to trip over the compliance threshold in a big way.

Single Source: Ideally, all aspects of the solution should be handled by the vendor - many SME solutions are presented as "integrated" but you are actually buying modules from various third parties that are bolted together by the service provider. Retail Point-of-Sale is often sold this way, with a core finance and inventory management system connected - often by an end-of-day batch process - to a standalone POS. Be very wary of this type of solution, as your risk of support issues increases as the number of suppliers to the solution increases.

Vendor Credentials: There has been considerable consolidation in the ERP market over the last few years, and the mergers and acquisitions show no sign of abating. Ask any prospective vendors for contact details of at least three customers who have been installed for more than two years in your industry, then use the web to find some customers they didn't tell you about and contact them.

Request the vendor's financial information and ask whether there are any legal actions outstanding against them. If you have access to a ratings firm like Dunn and Bradstreet, use that service to gain an understanding of the vendor's credit worthiness. And don't be worried if the vendors you consider are not household names. Typically, the vendors who focus on SME do not have the marketing budgets required for general advertising, so talk to your peers and industry associations. The ideal vendor is highly likely to be a smaller, local player with deep expertise in your industry and a history of servicing SME customers.

Support: The vendor's professional services team will be very keen to provide 'feet on the ground' support, where their consultants work with your team to optimise the ERP software, provide training and/or help recover if things go wrong (and it's not just software bugs that cause things to go wrong. Your staff can unwittingly cause chaos if they poke around the database or change administration settings on the fly). Ensure that the vendor charges local rates for these consultants, and unless you are outside a major city, do not agree to pay airfares or accommodation for their 'experts', as the cost of travel is their business expense, not yours.

Telephone, email or web support for general queries is commonly bundled into a support contract, and will likely require that you nominate a limited number of staff who can call the vendor for help. Don't be surprised if the contract limits the number of incidents per month or number of hours of telephone support. Finally, the vendor help desk is rarely a cost-effective training method, so vendors will push back if they feel your staff are taking advantage of the support team to wrangle free consulting.

Finally, ask how the vendor will plan and support software changes that better reflect your business needs. You are unlikely to convince an international vendor to update their core code, but smaller domestic vendors can be more easily influenced, especially if they see that the feature can help drive more sales.

Implementation Expertise: Industry scuttlebutt has it that many large implementations have been undertaken by the 'Happy Bus' method where a few experienced (and expensive) team leaders manage a large group of much less experienced (yet strangely, not much less expensive) juniors.

While this is less likely with SME projects, ask to see CVs during the sales process and match those up to the people actually doing the job. Ensure that you are not paying for vendor staff who are training on-the-job, and if you are in any doubt about the skills of the people doing the work, discuss it with the vendor straight away so your concerns can be addressed before the project is completed.

Investment Cost: While your aim should be as inexpensive a project as possible, budget at least one percent of your revenue as a good ballpark for the total project cost when comparing vendor proposals.

For SME projects, the software cost, new hardware/database and implementation services are likely to be each one-third of the total price. Software maintenance and/or ongoing support are typically separate line items that usually range from 15% - 20% of the licence cost. Make sure that proposals cover all the items you discussed with the sales team, and where you decide to delete an item to save cost - such as using your staff to migrate data from your existing system - ensure that the vendor provides some form of written project impact statement so that the implications arising from deleting the item are clear.

And while asking for Return on Investment (ROI) figures is the norm, the reality is that few projects capture the requisite before and after baseline details that provide a definitive ROI. You are better off asking reference customers how the system changed their business practices than studying vendor-written ROI papers.

Solution Type: There is a perennial argument in business circles that advocates either best-of-breed or fully integrated. With best-of-breed you buy specialist products for each business function and bolt them together to build a complete solution. Fully integrated products are typically not as feature-rich in any single area as best-of-breed, but they come from the same supplier and so notionally have a lower purchase cost and overall support cost.

SMEs should approach a best-of-breed project with healthy scepticism, as you will rarely have the skills, time and money required to connect the products together and maintain stability in the face of changing business processes, industry requirements and customer demands.

Note that it is OK to customise a small percentage of your solution to implement your competitive edge, but stay focused on getting that done, don't let scope creep and "hey, what a great idea" pad the wallet of your vendor's professional services team.

Upgrade Path: Before you pay for software maintenance, ask the vendor reference accounts about their experiences upgrading the product. While very few upgrades are painless, you need to know whether the vendor provides value for the maintenance charge (i.e. does the functionality included each year add value to the business?) and whether a team of consultants are required at extra cost to actually do the upgrade each year.

Technology: While there is no doubt that technology can streamline your business process, help retain customers and improve profitability, technology for its own sake is a waste of your money. It is also an area where vendors can use smoke and mirrors to hide inelegant products features...or suggest that the next release is a Golden Bullet tailor made for your business.

In particular, make sure that the vendor is not offering you a product today that they know will be upgraded to a different product in the future. For example, one large international ERP vendor - perhaps more used to consumer software products than business critical implementations - has FOUR versions of their product (actually four different applications from four different acquisitions) that they brand under the same general name. If your business grows then it's very likely you will have to "upgrade" to a different product, which is essentially a new implementation even though it has the same family name as the product you purchased.

Another large international vendor - who has considerable database expertise and should know better - is planning on upgrading customers to "new technology" at some point in the future. Access to this new technology may be included in your Maintenance cost, but once again, it is basically a new implementation and needs to be considered as such. It is highly unlikely that all the features you have already paid for will be in this "new technology" version, at least in the first release.

And a specific comment on Eric's note that "Many ERP systems use proprietary development tools". Yes they do and there are good historical and business reasons for that. But at the end of the day, the cost is not in the proprietary development tools but in the training time bringing staff up to speed on what all those millions of lines of ERP code actually do. And that's the case whether it's .NET, C#, Java, ABAP, C/SIDE, X++ or the myriad of other languages used by ERP vendors.

So... the decision to implement ERP represents a major investment that impacts the whole organisation. A well-planned and implemented ERP can change the way you do business and significantly improve profitability, but remember there can be pitfalls if you have not prepared properly. Make sure you do your homework - have a clear objective agreed at the outset, prioritise your expected outcomes and solutions, research potential vendors carefully, ask the right questions for your organisation and be prepared to invest your time. It may take a little longer at the outset but will prove vital to the long-run success of your business.

Single ERP Or Best of Breed?

Single ERP Or Best of Breed?

Eric Kimberling (ERP and Business Consultant)

Although it may sound shocking to some that have jumped on the ERP bandwagon, ERP is not the answer for everyone. In fact, during our ERP software assessment and selection process, it is not uncommon for Panorama Consulting to conclude that ERP is not the right answer for a client.

For some reason, it is easy to get caught up in all the hype and marketing of ERP. Big companies such as SAP and Oracle do a great job of convincing us all that ERP is an absolute must for companies of all sizes and industries. However, that's just not the case.

First, it is important to remember that there are other options out there. ERP in the traditional sense means implementing a single system to handle all critical business functions. But some companies instead find that implementing and integrating niche packages that handle specific functions extremely well are more suited for their organizations. Others find that their business and operating models are so unique that a completely custom solution is a feasible option. With open platforms such as .NET and WebSphere very pervasive these days, custom solutions aren't as crazy of an idea as they were 5 or 10 years ago.

So how is one to decide? What are the tradeoffs? In general, there are three key considerations that should help you guide your decision:

1. Business Risk. This is probably the most important. ERP is risky from a business perspective because its functionality may not meet the requirements of your business. Custom or best of breed solutions are risky from a technical perspective because, if not managed properly, the cost and time associated with developing a system from scratch can quickly spiral out of control.

2. Technical Competency. Many ERP systems use proprietary development tools, which means that you as a company will have to rely solely on the vendor and/or you will have to hire employees with very specialized skill sets to maintain and modify the software going forward. On the other hand, if you go with a custom or best of breed solution, you may have to beef up your IT staff with people that know .NET, integration, etc. In either scenario, most companies require more technical staff and resources after they implement new software.

3. Business Processes. This one is easy to overlook. During the evaluation and selection process for new software, it is important to identify and prioritize which business processes are the most important to your success and competitive advantage. Those are generally the ones that you don't want to break and want to continue to find ways to improve. It is in these areas that you want to be much more discriminating in terms of what software will meet your needs. Many companies have spent years developing and tweaking their business processes to give them a competitive advantage, so it is important not to give this up just because you are implementing new software.

While the above three areas do not suggest that any option is better than the other, they do provide a few starting criteria to use when determining which direction you want to go with your organization. In many cases, companies find that one particular ERP package will meet all their key requirements. In others, they find that after evaluating their ERP options, their needs will be better suited with a custom or best of breed solution. In either case, what's important is that companies carefully consider their options and scenarios as part of their overall IT assessment and selection process.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Proving ROI on ERP solutions


Proving ROI on ERP solutions
Dave Worsman, Operations Director of Ochiba Business Solutions, a dedicated SAP Business Partner specialising in the delivery of SAP Business One to the SME marketplace, shares his experiences

Having worked with so many businesses over the last 20 years that have undertaken projects without a proven business case, it's good to see the tide has well and truly changed. Now projects are forced to have that all important definition of goals aligned to business benefit and that does make for easier, quicker, and ultimately cheaper implementations.

This is of great interest to us as specialists in SAP Business One for small to medium enterprises. The case for justification is just as significant for a 4 user system as it is for a 400 user system, and we need to be able to help both extremes prove their potential ROI.

At Ochiba we have been working closely with SAP UK and with Martin Southern at Shark
Finesse Limited (specialists in ROI software) in order to drive business case justifications for ERP and other software solutions.

This has taken us deeper into the world of 'the business cases for ERP' than anyone else I know. Shark are specialists in this field, and it isn't for the highest £'s value of business cases ever written, or their complexity, but certainly for sheer range of experiences then I believe they are hard to beat and we can all learn from that.

So relax...this isn't an advertorial...and we will now share with you some real life experiences of business cases and provide a light hearted insight into the murky world of ROI (Return On Investment) and business case justification for ERP installations.

Not interested in this subject ?...Well, bury your head in the sand at your peril...because like everything else in life, there are always lessons to be learned...and no-one knows it all.

What is ROI ?

Businesses exist to generate profits, fulfil the planned objectives and to an extent serve the community at large. Good business decisions are essential to protect long term business strength and ensure benefits for everyone. But what constitutes a good business decision and how can these be determined from an economic perspective? Let's get in the mood with a simple example...

Assume your mobile phone bills are £100 per month and a rival operator offers the same
service for £70 - if there truly was no difference in the service everyone would look to ways to cut the costs. This is pretty obvious.

However, what if the new operator charged £200 to transfer to the new service - how many
people would consider this a good deal? There are a number of technology, service, and
coverage questions, but the hard headed business decision is: "Am I prepared to spend £200 now to reduce my bills by £30 per month?"

This is exactly the same scenario that many businesses face when examining whether to
invest in ERP solutions for their business. They already have solutions that work, are
producing profits, altogether successful - so why do they need something new that's going to cost money at this point in time?

Traditionally, these discussions have been based around features of a solution rather than its economic impact on the company. That's because everyone can understand the technical terms, but quantifying what it will do for the business P&L, and proving that the large up front cost is justifiable - now that's scary !

To find these economic benefits, we need to turn our minds to the language of savings that are understood by our financial friends, because it's those hard £s that are going to justify the investment spend required. Try some of the terminology around improvements in invoicing, for example:

The Technical message - Economics meaning -
Electronic invoicing = Avoid postage, stationery costs, manual time
Auto posting to customer ledger = Faster invoice approval and payment
Avoid manual input = Fewer errors, fewer concessions and faster cash

If we can find these economic savings, then we can prove that the additional up front
investment is more than covered by the benefits that will be generated. Always remember that the "do nothing" decision is available at all times, but if we can prove the benefits are good enough, then everyone will be happy to move forward on the economics as well as the technical aspects of the solution being reviewed.

What measures do finance people use to assess what is a good return? There are 3 of them:

Payback - At what point in time will the economic benefits recover the original costs?
In the mobile phone scenario above it is 6.7 months, being £200 up front cost
divided by the £30 per month savings. The answer is a time saving. But now you ask: "What happens after the 6.7 months period?" The decision just gets better, so how do we find the annual percentage return on the £200 just like we would be quoted an APR% on a loan - we can all understand that.

IRR or Internal Rate Of Return - the percentage rate of return on the incremental spend, over a selected time period, by comparing all the benefits with the original cost.
OK, now I get it, but let's say that I am borrowing money at 6% to fund my extra spend, what profit do I make over time, using a cost of money, and turning this into a £s value? A sort of increase in shareholders worth. This is...

NPV or Net Present Value - a £s profit in today's terms, comparing costs out, savings
in, and an annual cost of money. So, now that I have all three measures, if I could identify solution benefits, I can deliver a full ROI based business case for my technical proposal.

Let's see this in action...

A department store proposes to spend £250,000 on an ERP solution. The owners agree that benefits will accrue from reduced queuing time (1 in 12 people waiting would previously have left the queue), reduced stockholding and better buying margins. Benefits totalled £18k per month, but supplier would charge an extra £2k per month for the service. Over a 36 month review period and a 10% cost of money this a good deal? Who can possibly tell unless we look at the 3 key economic measures:

Payback 16 months (OK....but not that exciting)
IRR 89% per annum (fantastic)
NPV £249,000 (increased shareholder values)

It's now plain to see this makes sense and the technical decision is now supported by the
financial language that business people understand.

Case study examples

Our experience tells us that business cases (economic justifications) pivot on the identification of benefits inside organisations. Sometimes these are hiding away as internal inefficiencies long ago forgotten about by the business - and are talked about as just something that never quite got "fixed". Some of these caused major business pain though....Here's a sample of what we found on our own travels:

"What about stationery"

Sometimes being an expert is a bad tend to miss the most obvious savings,
because your own expertise and ego makes you look for the difficult issues.

A £100 Million distributor of paper and stationery was considering a new ERP implementation. The benefits discussion had found the obvious savings - some inventory, some time savings - when someone in the room said: "what about the stationery that we use for delivery notes?" A chortle went around the room. "Don't be silly, we'll still need to print the things" and the contributor went quiet.

10 minutes later he said again: "what about stationery?" And the audience became intrigued. He then went on the explain that the current delivery notes were printed on a non standard size paper and had a peculiar print layout that only one company could supply. The new ERP solution could print straight onto A4 at virtually no cost.

"How much do we spend on this funny paper at the moment?"
"£21,000 every year, over 3 years this would save £60,000 and tip the whole project into positive returns."

Moral of the story....never ignore a benefit just because it sounds simple The supplier didn't major on the feature of printing straight onto A4, but this is where the biggest financial benefit actually existed.

"This project just can't be justified"

Both client and sales account teams are often concerned that starting an exercise to discover economic benefits could actually backfire if there were insufficient benefits for the business case to be justified. It's actually very uncommon, but sometimes you need to look in the most unlikely places.

A car rental company had grown so quickly it needed better ERP systems to manage its
business. The sales team managed to get the IT Director and the Finance Director in a
room specifically with the objective to discover reasonable benefits that could arise. We
looked everywhere - all through the finance dept, the IT budget and we could only find
savings to cover about half of the project cost. We thought we had exhausted everything and stopped for lunch.

The Operations Director joined us and casually asked: "how's it going....we all know we need new systems". He then said: "on the new unified ERP system, will it track all the mileages of the vehicles that we have ?"
"Of course" we replied, "why do you ask?"
"Well I can get the vehicles serviced at the proper intervals rather than overrunning the mileage and incurring penalties."
"What penalties?" someone asked.
"Oh, the £165,000 per annum from the suppliers who charge penalties if we don't service the vehicles properly - we wouldn't pay that if we had accurate mileages."

One argument supported the whole business case.

"We don't have any IT at the moment"

Imagine a business that had grown successfully to a significant size without ANY major
computerised ERP systems. This is much more common that you think.

A food business employed over 200 people and was hugely profitable without any major IT infrastructure. This gives major opportunities for improvement, but also an in-built resistance to spend: "Why do we need IT...we are successful without it ?"

I attended a meeting to examine the economic benefits, and they were everywhere. Excitedly we began firing benefit after benefit to the client - it was too easy. However, in the middle of this I became disturbed as to the impact that we were having on the client. Our own incredulity about how this business had grown without IT had started to become a little offensive. We stopped the conversation and apologised.

We started again with a whole new emphasis about building upon what they were already
doing and explaining what could be possible in service, customer improvements AND
supporting them with the benefits. The financials were the easiest I've ever seen and the customer's FD knew this. We just had to be sensitive to their success and emphasise how much more success could follow.


Many people are frightened by business cases because it's an area of expertise that has a
certain mystery surrounding it. I hope that this article has helped reduce the fear and provide anecdotal evidence that the majority of proposals really do deliver positive ROIs.

Ochiba use the tools and business case histories from Shark Finesse Ltd that allow us to
engage customers and focus on the real hard benefits that can arise as a result of new ERP solutions. This ROI approach can be completed in a minimum amount of time, does not involve boring / mistrusted spreadsheets, and can make a major difference to the perception of a project inside our customers.

Our own business has a mission to simplify this for everyone because making good business decisions and delivering returns are key to the constant improvement in the impact businesses have on the whole community.