Posts Tagged ‘profits’

Budget Season! Time to Start Thinking about 2012

by Matthew Carmen on May 23, 2011

Well here we are in May. 2011 seems to be flying by – the year is almost half over, and in the corporate world you know what that means:

Time to start planning for 2012.

This is that time of the year everyone dislikes. For operations and the overall business, it is essentially time away from what they want to focus on, and for the finance teams, it is that time when they find themselves refereeing battles between operations and business for the finite amount of dollars.  All in all, this time of the year is where the challenges of the year ahead are discussed, strategized around, and hopefully addressed.

The three distinct groups – business, operations, and finance teams, each play a role in ensuring a successful budgeting and planning season.  In the case of the business, each area – whether a business unit, product line or service; needs to have its strategy fully developed by the executive team and communicated to all levels of the business.  By doing this, each person – from the lowest level all the way up – will know:

  • What the corporate strategy is, going forward,
  • How their work will help move the company towards the goal, and
  • It will provide management teams the direction in which to plan programs and projects.

By establishing a clear direction across the board, the business will be able to have conversations with the operational areas (such as IT) to make sure that the needs of the business are top priority for everyone.

No Personal Agendas

In my experiences, which have taken place in each of the three distinct areas, one thing has always been paramount to success, “Don’t come to the negotiations with a personal agenda”.  The more emotion that is brought to the table, the longer and more drawn out the negotiations become, and feelings are hurt at the end of the process.  Many times these feelings carry forward and the working relationships between people, groups and departments can be irreparably harmed.  This definitely does not help the long-term growth of a company.

The IT Operations View

In the case of the IT operations groups, this time of year is typically focused on two major things;

  1. The planning of programs and projects that benefit the business, and
  2. The planning of the IT organization.

In the case of the second point, IT has to weigh the benefits to the business versus the needs of the IT organization.  This means that with a finite amount of budget dollars available, the IT department needs to find the right mix of dollars for the benefit of the business while having enough budget to make sure the IT department is able to do the things it needs to do to ensure the business survives long term.  This internal IT spend will likely include: disaster recovery, continued infrastructure modernization, replacement systems for facilities, server and storage growth and refresh, etc.  These areas of spend need to be voiced to the business and discussions need to take place at this time of year, at times, the business seems to forget that ongoing operations need to be sustained and this costs money. May and June are critical communication months in the budgeting and planning season.  Communicating now means that once the finance team is ready to open the budgeting tool, usually right after the July 4th holiday, the whole budgeting project goes more smoothly.

The Finance Team View

The finance team always hopes for a smooth budget season.  Depending on the work they do in these early stages of the process, this smooth season is possible.  At this time of the year, the finance team needs to make sure that its message is communicated as well.  The finance team needs to make sure that all of the business and operational groups know and understand the process by which the budget will happen, what the key dates are, what the budgeting system will include and what business and operations will need to add to it.  These are all very important, the more the business and operational groups understand about what they are responsible to do at this point and throughout the whole budgeting process, the easier it becomes for everyone.

Another area that the finance team needs to be working on at this point is the final testing for its budgeting system.  Changes to the system from previous years may have been done due to upgraded equipment and upgrades in software functionality.  If a completely new system has been implemented (Hyperion and Cognos-TM1 are the two largest systems currently in use by midsized and large companies), the work becomes even more challenging.  Lastly, on the finance side of the budgeting triangle, training the usage of the system must be planned for.  All planning sessions need to be calendared, and anyone who will use the system including: cost center managers, department managers, executives and financial representation should be included in the training. (Either a complete training on a new system, or in the case of the use of the same system, a refresher course will be needed as well as complete training for new users.)

Plan Ahead for Success

Just like most endeavors, the more work that is put into the early phases of the annual planning exercise, the easier it become to achieve success.  The easier the complete budgeting process is, the less evasive to all areas involved it is.  Remember, for most people involved, the budget process is an addition to their “regular” job.  Remember, throughout the whole process, nothing is personal, it is all about moving the business forward…the right way.  Lastly, there are professionals, like myself, that can help with anything from questions to process and system integration.  We are here to help and make your business grow.

Increase the value of your company

by Steve Popell on August 9, 2010

This post is about the Role of Stock Appreciation Rights in retaining key employees; which goes a long way in increasing the value of your company. One of the least understood, but most valuable, strategic assets of any privately held company planning to sell is the quality of management, including its breadth and depth.

Put yourself in the position of the buyer.  Would you pay a lot for a company the executive corps of which consists of the founder/CEO and a cast of minor characters?  Of course you wouldn’t, and for one very sound reason.  If something were to happen to that individual (illness, injury, death or, simply, loss of motivation) your return on investment would be in serious jeopardy.  So, you would reduce your risk by reducing the price.

Therefore, it is critically important that ownership find effective ways to retain key employees.

Fewer Practical Options (Pun Intended)

Financial incentives have always played a key role.  However, because IPOs are much harder to come by in today’s market, one of the traditional favorites (stock options) has lost much of its appeal.  Not to worry.  Riding to the rescue is a great alternative: Stock Appreciation Rights or SARs.  This vehicle conveys no equity ownership.  Instead, the employee shares in the financial success of the company through what amounts to cumulative deferred income, with a vesting schedule that can take nine years or longer to play out.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are several distinct advantages of SARs over traditional stock options, including:

  1. The value of the SAR shares is directly related to critical measures of company success, such as Pretax or After-Tax Profit, or Net Worth.
  2. The bases for the (hopefully increasing) value of the SAR shares are strictly a matter of management discretion.
  3. There are none of the nettlesome issues associated with employee equity ownership, such as membership on the Board of Directors.
  4. All SAR shareholders have a common goal, which encourages cooperation among sometimes competitive individuals and/or departments.
  5. The vesting schedule provides a powerful incentive to stay with the company – the whole point.
  6. When the company repurchases vested shares, these payments are fully deductible.

The principal disadvantage is common to stock options; namely, inadequate short-term incentives.  This problem can be very effectively addressed with cash bonuses.

The next post will discuss the logistics of setting up and managing an effective SAR program, as well as how to structure a cash bonus program that it actually benefits the company, and not just the employees.

Make it a great month!

PhotoPopell This article has been contributed by Steven D. Popell. Steve has been a general management consultant since 1970. Steve is a Certified Management Consultant, business valuation expert, and inventor of ExiTrak®– a process designed to assist the privately-held company owner/manager to build an attractive strategic acquisition candidate

The Dance of Entrepreneurship

by Rajesh Setty on June 9, 2009

There are broadly three phases of entrepreneurship

1. The Beginning

2. The Journey

3. The New Beginning ( Yes, It’s Not the Destination )

rubber_meets_the_road

Now, the quick outline of the elements in each phase:

1. The Beginning

The five elements for the beginning phase are:

1. Purpose: Knowing why you are in this will help you keep going when the going gets tough

2. Passion
: Doing what you love will make it feel like you are not working

3. People: Building together with the right people will make it look easy

4. Problem: Solving a real problem will help as people will pay to solve a real problem.

5. Plan: Having a plan even when you know that it’s going to change along the way

2. The Journey

The five elements of the journey

1. Patience: Everything takes longer and costs more. Patience is a MUST

2. Persistence: Sticking to the course of action even in the face of difficulty

3. Perseverance: Sticking to your beliefs even in the face of no successful outcome

4. Pain: Ability to handle the “pains” of entrepreneurship along the way

5. Politics: Knowing how to navigate in the sea of politics. You may not want to play politics but surely you should know how to survive and thrive in the politics that already exists

Last phase is what I call the “New Beginning.” I purposely did not call it the destination because rarely I see entrepreneurship “ends” with something – it’s usually a stepping stone to begin something new.

3. The New Beginning

So, here are the five elements of the new beginning

1. Pride: The satisfaction that comes with taking a concept to a completion

2. Profits: If executed well, there is money to be made. There are also profits in terms of personal growth and fulfillment.

3. Power: Since nine out of ten companies go out of business, if you are part of the one that succeeds, you automatically have more power.

4. Possibilities: New possibilities open up as you have more credibility

5. Philanthropy: You can make a bigger difference to the world as you have “extra” capacity

For those of you who are starting on this wonderful journey, wish you the very best.