Getting spreadsheets to add value as well as numbers

Spreadsheets can be used in almost any part of a business. While accountants feature highly among users, Excel’s ease of use at a basic level means that most people can create a spreadsheet.  Having said that Excel is very powerful and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. A contact of mine Steve Randall recently…

Ethics by Design – smaller business reflections

  I recently attended a thought provoking conference, Ethics by Design, on the topic of fostering ethical culture in organisations. Ethics pays The morning session was led by Jonathan Haidt, a Professor at NYU Stern School of Business.  One takeaway for me was something that I had only partly rationalised – that is that ‘Ethics…

Ethics & policies. On the tongue, are they on the lung?

I was struck by a recent headline, “55% of small firms don’t have an ethics policy”.   The article referred to a survey of ‘SMEs’  and I must say I was surprised that there are as many as 45% that actually have an ethics policy! Does the lack of an ethics policy mean that a business lacks…

Fraud should be seen as a business opportunity!!

‘It’s not going to happen to us’ From time to time a major fraud scandal hits the headlines, the latest one being Toshiba. Frauds in smaller businesses are less likely to receive public attention but they still happen. Common characteristics are a high degree of trust in staff and more informality than in a large company.…

Why an “us” culture adds to the bottom line

As my work often involves helping improve business processes I am all too aware that having staff “buy in” is an important factor in achieving change.  Conversely, the way that change is managed can impact (for good or bad) on staff morale. In my view a key factor in motivation and positive change is the…

The economy, profits – you need to get past the headline!

There has recently been talk of a triple dip recession.  There is a recession when there has been two consecutive quarters of negative growth, a definition based on numbers.  In Q4 2012 UK GDP contracted by 0.3% and growth in the previous quarter was 1%.  In my work I particularly enjoy helping businesses use numbers…

Is it time to take the “Corporate” out of “Governance”?

Corporate Governance has been described as “the system by which companies are directed and controlled”.   Clearly this applies to all businesses.    However Corporate Governance as a subject tends to be the ambit of public companies, charities and other public interest organisations.  On line conversations in the Corporate Governance community seem to mostly relate to larger businesses. In…

Bonuses the good the bad and the downright ugly

It is people’s abilities and behaviours that drive business success.  While training, leadership and motivation are critical to success, bonuses can also help improve performance. However, the impact of bonuses can be good, bad or downright ugly: One client who operated a number of depots was having problems in promptly collecting money from customers. The credit…

Put your head in the Cloud – but keep your feet on the ground!

A lot of the work I do is around the information that comes out of a computer or the processes before data is entered. What happens in between is to me, quite frankly, a bit of a dark art. I recently attended a seminar Cloud Accounting for the 21st Century Debunking The Myths hosted by…

News of the World – an unanswered question

My initial reaction to the recent News of the World revelations was that the people at the top must take responsibility.  I took the view that senior management are ultimately responsible for the organisation’s culture and when there is a serious breach of ethics they should resign. As mentioned in my last blog I have…