NEWS AND RESOURCES

General Business News for September 2000

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Do You Have the Resources You Need?
If you are in business – any business - you should be constantly asking yourself the question “Do I have all the tools I need?”

In this modern high tech era, it is hard to believe any business can operate without a computer, but some do. We run into that situation frequently. An even greater challenge for today’s business owner is properly using an employee’s talents.

In this month’s article, we will briefly discuss issues surrounding resource utilization.

Communications

The communications industry has always been an integral part of our everyday life, but our society is getting to the point where being accessible is becoming a way of life.

So what does this mean for you as a businessperson? It means your choices are greater today than they ever have been. It may also mean your privacy is more limited today than it ever has been.

Choices -

What is it that runs your business? Is your business a retail storefront operation that depends on foot traffic? Are you a service business like we are? Maybe you are a manufacturing concern or a governmental agency.

The kind of telecommunications system you are going to need depends on what your business does and how big the business is.

Service businesses, such as lawyers and doctors, until recently, have avoided voice mail preferring instead to have a real person answer telephone calls. A large manufacturing concern, not needing intimate customer contact, may be more inclined to have an extensive voice mail system.

A small retail storefront operation would likely not need a sophisticated system , while a larger retail chain may need such a system to keep the stores in communication with headquarters.

What growth plans do you have and will your current system support that growth? Many systems these days are modular and capacity can be added as needed.

Privacy-

You may wonder why we haven’t mentioned the portable communications side of the equation yet. This is where the lack of privacy issue comes in.

In any overall communications system, you must also consider how accessible you wish to be. Some people cannot stand being out of touch. For those people, there are cellular telephones and pagers that also act as portable Internet devices. Remember, though, the more people who have your cellular or pager number, the more likely it is someone will use it.

Just imagine, you’re in the middle of the club championship. Everything comes down to this final putt. If you make it, you win and are immortalized forever on the championship cup. If you miss, your greatest rival wins once again.

You carefully line up the putt. You know exactly how it will roll. You start the back swing and … your cellular phone rings. You miss the putt and loose the match.

Grumbling, you leave the green swearing you’re going to kill whoever called you. When you return the call, you find out the caller was a patient who wanted to know if they should take an aspirin for a minor headache or not. A simple little white pill has ruined your chances at the trophy again!


This is a bit far-fetched, but the point is that for each means of contact you make available, there is much more of a chance someone will use it in an unintended way. This can be good or bad, depending on your customer service philosophy. Just be careful who you give access to.

Data Processing System

Do you have a computer at your desk at the office? Do you need one? What do you do in your office or business that could be done better or more efficiently if you had a computer?

Why are they asking me this? I’m reading this on-line. Of course I have a computer!” You may say. But, for all we know, you could be reading this at the house. Many people have better, faster computers at home than they have at the office, if they even have one at the office.

We have been to many clients in the recent past who do not have computers. Even if they do have computers, they treat them as if they are toys and not the tools they are meant to be.

As with communications equipment, you must first determine what your needs are. To do that, you start with what you do.

Are you in more of a service industry or manufacturing industry? Those of us in service industries find that our data processing needs tend to run more along the lines of needing internet access, relatively uncomplicated accounting systems and extensive word processing and presentation software.

Manufacturers and contractors tend to need very complicated accounting systems, less internet access – unless involved in e-commerce – and pretty powerful computers if they are involved in computer aided design, or if their manufacturing process is highly automated.

What volume of work do you do and how do you do it? If you are a small contractor that performs four or five jobs a year, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a program or computer designed for a major contractor.

The considerations are numerous, but there are a few simple rules after you have determined what you think you need.

First and foremost, determine what software you need. Look at the features of various products and arrange for a demonstration of all products you are interested in and that you can afford. Make sure there is adequate training available for the system you purchase and check out other users’ experiences before you buy the system.

Only when you have picked out your software should you pick out the computer. Most software has minimum system requirements. The only way you will know what hardware you need is to know what software you will use.

Expect to run into problems in implementation and expect it to take longer than you planned. Be committed to your implementation and be certain your employees are also. Installing new data processing hardware and software is frustrating and time consuming, but worth it if you have the right software.

Make sure you give your employees sufficient training. Many implementation problems are due to user error. Minimize your risks by giving your users extensive training.

Finally, don’t expect the computer to take away your problems. In the end, a computer is a tool that will do only what you tell it to do. No software system will give you all you want, but many can come close.

Other Tools

How long have you been in business – a year or a century?

How new is your equipment? Is there anything out in the marketplace that can increase your capacity without causing you to add new space or people?

Today, many manufacturers are combining the ability of a computer to follow precise steps automatically with the ability of machinery to produce the product. The results are staggering. Worker productivity rises because the tools enable the worker to do more in less time. Quality increases and waste decreases. The result – greater net income for the owner in the long run.

We aren’t suggesting you go out and buy the latest and greatest widget maker, especially if you don’t make widgets. However, we do suggest you commit to reviewing all of the equipment you use in the manufacture of your product or provision of your services on a periodic basis. Then, compare what you have to what you can have and determine if you should investigate newer machinery.

People, People, People

Unless you are a hermit who lives on Gilligan’s Island, your single most important resource is PEOPLE. This includes the people you work with, work for and your customers.

Life is simple when you have the right staff in the right jobs, but how often does that really happen. What do you do then?

Regardless of the situation – hire or fire – the key to developing your most important resource is constant evaluation. Only you know your needs and your personnel. When evaluating your business organization and needs, don’t stop at inanimate objects. Keep in mind that the people make the business what it is.

Conclusion

With the ever-changing business environment, there is never a moment you can sit back and be positive of having the best tools for the job. You must constantly evaluate your needs and determine if your current assets meet those needs. If you don’t your competitor will.

Many times people put off this process in their business because they either 1) don’t have the time or 2) don’t know where to start. If either of these describe you, don’t worry, we have a solution. Give us a call. With the number of businesses we have helped over the years, we certainly know where to start. And, you know for a certainty that we always have time to do what we like best – help our friends.

Have a great month!

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