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 […]

Risk indicators for smaller businesses

When things go pear shaped in business people look back and often see that there were warning signs.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Especially in a smaller business. Smaller businesses v larger ones Small and medium sized businesses are very different to larger ones – here are a few examples: Bosses are likely to be more involved in […]

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. […]

No internal audit? It needs a business case!

A red flag  In a recent article Richard Chambers Global President and CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors rightly described the lack of an internal audit function as a ‘red flag that should cause an investor’s antenna to go up’. In the UK, fully listed companies are not obliged to have an internal audit function, […]

10 internal audit qualities for smaller businesses

Recent UK governance changes are likely to lead to smaller quoted companies looking more closely at the way they manage risk and how they ensure that business practices are effectively supporting their organisation. More companies are likely to look at having some sort of internal audit function, although resource is likely to be limited. With […]

How do think about risk?

Taking risk is an everyday fact of business life and entrepreneurs who take risks that come off are often admired. Risks can arise from adverse events, such as something giving rise to a legal claim/bad publicity or the loss of a key member of staff. There can also be risks of something good not happening, such […]

When quality, service & price aren’t enough to win business

The majority of large companies issue less than a third of contracts to small firms according to a recent Telegraph article.  While small businesses were given credit for efficiency, flexibility and being in touch with customer needs, the article suggests that this may be not enough to win business from big companies.  Large companies have concerns about […]

8 differences between internal and external audit

For many people “audit” is about the end of year accounts, which is very often the case.  However internal audit has a different focus it might be worth having a look at the differences – especially if you are a company director or a charity trustee.   I’ve spent a significant part of my career as […]

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 […]