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Most agendas mean nothing. That guarantees that the meeting will take longer and accomplish less. Here's how to prepare a complete agenda.

Quick Tip - Do Your Meetings Have a Complete Agenda?

Quick Tip - Do Your Meetings Have a Complete Agenda?Most agendas for a meeting look like this.* Budget* Payroll* Staff* Sales* ZvoufzxtnSome people tell me, "That's a perfectly good agenda. I know what all of those things mean, except, uh, 'Zvoufzxtn'." The point is, Zvoufzxtn means as much to you as the other terms mean to the other participants. For example, does budget mean increase the budget? Plan a budget? Report on the budget? Reduce the budget? Complain about the budget? Make fun of the budget? Or zvoufzxtn the budget?An agenda like the one above could launch a meeting that considers all of the possibilities mentioned above. Instead, you may have wanted to reallocate funds from one department to another.A proper agenda specifies everything that the participants need to know to make the meeting effective. It should contain:Goal: A clear description of the results expected by the end of the meeting, such as a decision, agreement, or solution.Outcome: The reason (or benefit) for achieving the goal.Activities: A detailed list of the activities that will be used in the meeting. This should be so complete that someone else could use it to lead your meeting.Logistics: Everything that the participants need to know to contribute to an effective meeting. This can include directions to the meeting room, instructions on how to prepare, and a list of things to bring.A complete agenda will help you hold effective meetings.

Finding The Right Expense Management Solution For Your Company

Finding The Right Expense Management Solution For Your Company

In recent times, initiatives such as the Sarbannes Oxley Act in the US have dramatically raised the profile of compliance within the corporate world. As a key element of any corporate compliance policy, expense management has shared some of the limelight. As a result, an Expense Management Solution (EMS) is now critical to any business concerned with corporate compliance. But what is an Expense Management Solution (EMS)? Does your company need one? And where do you find a good one? Just as importantly, how do you successfully implement and integrate an Expense Management Solution (EMS) into your corporate environment. This article sheds some light on these issues. What is an Expense Management Solution (EMS)? The term "expense management" solution has been used to describe quite different commercial products and services. In the context of this article, an "expense management solution" is defined as a technology based system that processes:(i) transaction records received from a credit card issuer (detailing employee use of corporate credit cards0; and (ii) cash reimbursement claims originated by an employee. In practice the target application is Travel and Entertainment expenditure. A robust Expense Management Solution (EMS) will also support procurement (pCard) activities as part of a broader strategy of effectively managing lower value, high volume business-to-business transactions. The three core steps of any expense management process are: 1. the acceptance/input of validated source data; 2. the application of predetermined rules of handling expense records; and 3. the posting of transactions to a corporate repository such as an ERP system. What is the purpose of an Expense Management Solution (EMS)? The objectives of an expense management solution implementation should include the following: 1. to automate the preparation, submission, approval, and auditing of travel & entertainment claims, thus improving the productivity of account holders and reducing the time and cost of accounts staff; 2. to support the implementation of a standardized best practice method of managing high volume expenses through the use of corporate credit cards; and 3. to increase the transparency and enhance the governance of financial transactions conducted on behalf of the enterprise. Sources of Expense Management Solutions Australian and international organizations now have access to a range of quality expense management solutions which are well suited to driving down administration cost whilst meeting corporate compliance requirements. There are essentially three sources of expense management solutions: 1. ERP systems; 2. systems offered by card issuers; and 3. best-of-breed solutions. Each will have their own merits and will suit organizations in different circumstances. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems ERP sourced expense management has the attraction of being fully integrated within the financial suite of software, therefore offering a standard look and feel to all users of the ERP. With ERP sourced expense management functionality, the ERP supplies the core software, and the enterprise needs to customize and configure the system to reflect its own structures and rules regarding the management of staff expenses. If you're considering the option of using their ERP for [*_*], you need to be conscious of a number of factors, including: the actual functionality available within their specific installed ERP system; the backlog of work on the ERP system accumulated for the IT department; and the deployment time and the cost of the project (which will usually be substantial). License costs can be an issue if an enterprise if your company has not paid a license fee that will cover all card account holders and cash claimants. Card Issuer SystemsSome card issuers promote [*_*] solutions which can range from a computer generated report through to an online system with some embedded workflow concepts. The attraction of card issuer [*_*] solutions is that they are offered as part of a card deal, sometimes (apparently) for free. If you're considering a card issuer [*_*] solution, you need to know: will you be 'locked in' to the card issuer?; and will you be able to configure the [*_*] solution to adequately reflect internal requirements? Best-of-Breed Solutions Best-of-breed [*_*]s from specialist providers can be relatively seamlessly interfaced to an organization's internal systems such as HR and ERP, but will not present a common look and feel to the ERP system. You would usually choose a best-of-breed [*_*] if you want:1. your company to be independent of a particular card issuer; 2. to achieve a fast implementation; and/or 3. to configure the solution to its own unique rules and policies of expense administration. Best-of-breed [*_*]s are typically deployed as either an ASP (Application Service Provider) or self hosted solution. Although exceptions are common, small to medium enterprises tend to appreciate the lower up-front cost of an ASP [*_*], and larger enterprises are attracted to the control available through a self-hosted [*_*]. ASP [*_*]s are typically paid for on a per statement per month basis, and self-hosted [*_*]s have a range of options available from up-front license fees to monthly license rentals. Overcoming the Cultural Resistance to Expense Management Solutions Some Finance Directors still have an aversion to corporate credit cards. It's not uncommon to hear a finance director say if I give everyone a card, they'll spend us broke! However, the benefits of an Expense Management Solution are apparent as soon as the Finance Director considers the difficulties of controlling the expenditure behavior of thousands of employees using a manual system of reimbursements which is largely based around a set of uncoordinated spreadsheets. Basic activities such as enforcing travel policies, calculating tax implications, reconciling, posting to a chart of accounts at a detailed level and auditing, are so difficult as to be more honored in the breach than the observance... Viewed from a different perspective, a company with revenues of $700m $50m in EBITDA, and $20m in annual employee business expenses, can make a dramatic impact on its bottom line using an [*_*] without increasing revenue. If automation reduces these expenses by only five per cent in the first year, the savings alone have the same impact on the bottom line as $14m in new revenue. It isnt surprising that the return on investment of an [*_*] project is often achieved within its first 12 months of operation. Expense Management Solutions also play a vital role in Fraud Control. Fraud in this context takes many guises, not all of which are the sort that land perpetrators in court. Information taken from our own customer experience and from publications of the USA Association of Certified Fraud Examiners identify the top four categories of fraud: 1. Mischaracterized expenses 2. Overstated (exaggerated) payments 3. Fictitious expenses 4. Multiple reimbursements Research in the USA has pointed to as much as 1% of company revenues being lost to employee expense mismanagement. Expense Management Systems will not, in their own right, eliminate this but they are a vital tool in creating an environment that drives down the level of mismanagement. Conclusion Over the past 18 months, our company has observed a change in motivation for [*_*] projects. Whereas formerly [*_*]s were an exercise solely in the reduction of administration costs, now governance is equally a driver to implement technology based controls around high volume expenditure. The Sarbannes Oxley (SOX) act in the USA has captured the attention of any enterprise active in the USA. However, inside or outside the USA, the senior executives must warrant that their company has implemented adequate financial controls that prevent fraud and give a true and correct record of the enterprises financial activities. As a result, the Corporate Travel Manager who pitches a proposal on [*_*] to the senior executive team currently finds a willing audience.

Portfolio Management - Let The Professionals Take The Load

Portfolio Management - Let The Professionals Take The Load

Do you have a lot of shares in different companies?Do you have a large sum that you are looking to invest in the stock market?Are you finding that doing the essential research too time consuming?You might want to consider a portfolio management company.Share Portfolio management is an option for those with a high value portfolio of shares, or a large amount of capital to invest in shares and commodity futures. Portfolio managers have various minimum values that they require to actively manage your investments.The reason large minimum values are in place is because of the high commission charges that these companies make. It would not be worth a small investor, with $10,000 employing a company to manage his portfolio of shares in one or two companies.Having a professional Portfolio Manager does remove a lot of anxiety from the individual. The manager's role is to ensure that your portfolio is a balanced one, without excess exposure to currency fluctuations or to any one sector of the market.It is part of the managing companys role to conduct research, so that they can advise you on the best options. Research is an area that many individual investors find difficult, unless they spend hours every day watching share prices. The professional advisor employs people to conduct research into specific companies or market sectors, allowing you access to better research than you would have otherwise.Your Portfolio Manager will also ascertain the degree of risk that you are happy with and ensure that your portfolio of shares is not at odds with your risk acceptance.For anyone with a smaller amount than a Portfolio Management Company will manage there are other options. Look at Investment Trusts and Unit Trusts. These are companies which take investors cash, pool it and buy a balanced portfolio of shares in stock market companies, reducing the investor's overall risk.Find out more at http://www.portfolio-management-today.info.

Team Building Training

Team Building Training

Where training is concerned as a part of team building, this often refers to a more skills-centered approach, rather than the more generalized methods of team development. However, your "team building" training will depend both on the needs of your organization, and the style and capabilities of the team building consultant you bring in to facilitate the process. Virtually any team building activities can be made more or less training-oriented to suit your goals and expectations.Team building is a process of bringing together individuals who need to work cooperatively and providing activities or exercises that help develop the basic skills required for effective teamwork, including:-good communication skills, including conflict management-the ability to clarify goals and work cooperatively towards achieving these-staying focused on the task at hand-problem solving -the importance of each individuals contribution towards the greater goalThese general concepts will carry over in the form of improved interpersonal relationships at the office, improved morale and more effective communication and cooperative efforts during the course of daily work. The ultimate result of a happier, more motivated team is increased productivity for the company as a whole. As mentioned, these benefits can be augmented by focusing on specific problem areas your team may be encountering, or areas for improvement. It may be helpful to sit down together before choosing an approach to training, to allow each team member to voice any concerns, issues they would like help addressing, suggestions, and so on. The intention behind team building and training is to empower each team member to be as effective as possible, not to point out deficiencies or place blame. The more involved each individual can be at each step of the process, the more helpful the experience is likely to be. Finding ways to help a group of individuals function effectively as a cohesive team is a process that requires structure and commitment over time, as well as regular review. Like any other relationship, communication, change and growth are all necessary components of the way team members work together, and the working relationship will evolve naturally over time given the attention it needs. Periodic team building training will ensure everyone is on the same page, and going in the right direction.Take some time to explore the vast range of team development resources available and start to think about methods that may be the most useful for your team. Try to keep an emphasis on the fun side of learning and make the experience an enjoyable one. Remind your team of their many strengths as you explore ways to become more effective together. With a clear, shared focus on goals you maximize your combined ability to reach the desired outcome, and can look forward to celebrating future successes.

Why Flogging Dead Horses Stinks

Flogging a dead horse is a commonly used idiom here in the UK. If someone is trying to convince someone else to do or feel something without any hope of succeeding, we say they're flogging a dead horse. This is used when someone is trying to raise interest in an issue that no-one supports anymore; beating a dead horse will not make it do any more work. 1. Similarly, the tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." Rather than seeing a situation for what it is far too many individuals, businesses, public service and government organisations prefer to live in denial rather than accept the wisdom of the Dakota Indians. Instead, it seems people just love to develop alternative strategies for flogging dead horses. Taken from various articles and blogs currently on the Internet here are just a few suggestions: The horse isnt really dead, we just need a better whip Its not the horse its the rider thats at fault If you dont get up youre sacked, Silver! Commission a study of how other companies ride their dead horses Lower the horses productivity standards Reclassify the dead horse as life challenged Hire a top management consultancy to tell you that the horse is dead without telling you where to buy a new one or how much it might cost Improve pay, conditions and training to increase your dead horses performance Produce a report that highlights the fact that dead horses incur fewer costs Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all life challenged equines Promote the dead horse to boardroom level or put it out to pasture while paying it a huge golden hoof-shake sorry, thats just horse manure.Strangely enough, those people who believe that the past is an accurate barometer of future events are the very same people who possess an alarming tendency towards flogging dead horses. If it worked yesterday and it works today then itll surely work tomorrow. Its this sort of linear thinking that gets horses killed in the first place. These equine assassins tend to view the future as a predetermined event, waiting just over the horizon to happen. Of course, the truth is very different.For one thing, while most people would accept that we share a common reality, such as general social norms of behaviour, essentially we all see the world slightly differently. My view of the world is coloured, filtered and distorted by my own personal experiences to a greater or lesser extent. For example, while a furniture manufacturer regards trees as a raw material and resource, the environmentalist treasures them as the lungs of the planet to be protected at all costs. Each sees a valid aspect of a much bigger, more complex system at work in the world.And so its easy to see how problems and misunderstandings can occur when one vision of the world clashes with another. This is bad enough when just confined to the realm of our personal relationships, but can be absolutely disastrous in terms of business, religion and politics. Taking the narrow or institutional view of the world rather than learning to appreciate the bigger picture always limits the options available, and blinds people to both hazards and solutions.Not convinced? Still think its better to flog a dead horse than dismount? Okay, how about this for a bit of disastrous institutional thinking: 2. In September 1944, at the battle to capture the Arnhem bridge over the river Rhine (the last phase of operation Market-Garden), the British First Airborne Division landed with the wrong radio crystals. This technical oversight meant the Paras at Arnhem couldn't communicate with the outside world, or their relief column, XXX Corp, just a few miles away at Nijmegen. As anyone who has seen the movie A Bridge Too Far will know the Paras were isolated, heavily engaged in bitter fighting against superior numbers, had limited resources, and were surprised to find that many of them had been dropped in the wrong place to start with.Lack of communication between the scattered elements of the First Airborne and XXX Corp proved critical in the battles decision. However, while the battle raged, members of the Dutch resistance in Arnhem routinely talked with their counterparts in Nijmegen. The civil telephone system remained intact. The Germans didnt think to cut the telephone lines while the British paratroopers never thought to simply knock on someones door, ask if the telephones were working and make a call to Nijmegen.To the rigid corporate mind of the British and German armies the battlefield had been defined outside the civilian infrastructure. The Dutch underground assumed the paratroopers were talking to each other and Nijmegan by radio, and so didnt think to mention the telephone system was operational. At Nijmegan, Dutch intelligence about the unfolding disaster at Arnhem was largely ignored or discredited as unreliable, as no-one at XXX Corp realised the Dutch possessed an open channel of communication. Instead of ending the war by Christmas of 1944, the Allies suffered a humiliating defeat and the war went on until the following May and all for the want of a horse-shoe nail.The ability to deny what is glaringly obvious, and do nothing, or support a position against all evidence to the contrary is a common human failing. However, thankfully, learning organisations are springing up everywhere; challenging the status quo; adapting to rather than denying or avoiding critical situations and issues. 3. A learning organisation is one that learns and encourages learning among its people. It promotes a continual exchange of information between employees hence creating a more knowledgeable workforce. This produces a very flexible organisation where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and changes through a shared vision. Perhaps, eventually, well all learn that when we discover were riding a dead horse, the best strategy really is to dismount.Sources:1. www.stuartbruce.biz 2. www.marketgarden.com 3. www.infed.org

Profitability - Pricing Strategies To Make Money

At a meeting the other day, a marketing consultant opened her talk by asking the group, "What are you worth?" She went on to discuss all the different ways we minimize our worth or discount our value in desperate attempts to close the sale. After all the pitfalls of pricing and selling were laid out, she closed the talk by asking again, "What are you worth?" The responses around the room were very entertaining as people began to realize or give themselves permission to adjust their prices to make a profit! As a wakeup call for your own business, I want to give you some options to consider ensuring your pricing delivers the profitability you deserve. 1. Educate your customers. When prospects approach you or calls/emails you for an estimate/quote, this is a buying signal. They are telling you they are ready to buy and willing to spend money to purchase your expertise. - Provide superior service and they won't look elsewhere and won't blink at your price. Excellence is priceless. 2. Many prospects perceive value and price as equal. A lower price can actually hurt your credibility and sales because they associate the best quality products and services with premium pricing. Listen to your customers. - Do some competitive research and be sure you are not shorting yourself. 3. Periodically calculate your profit margin to be sure what you charge, after expenses and overhead, pays you a good living. Covering expenses, overhead and payroll is not enough. 4. Periodically do the numbers to be sure that the actual cost/hour and price/hour give you the necessary profit margin. Your daily rate may sound reasonable. But if you bill for 7 or 8 hours and put in 12 -14 hours, you may actually be paying yourself less than your lowliest employee or intern. 5. There are ways to keep your prices fixed to maintain value and yet be flexible. Add the flexibility by designing different bundles of services or different packages of hours/month or hours/project to be contracted. 6. Set your fees just a bit above what you feel comfortable asking for. Then, bump them up incrementally until clients complain or you stop getting reorders. 7. When asked, be upfront about your prices, and then zip it. Do not apologize for your prices, defend your prices, or justify how you derived the price. 8. Yes, there are strategic times when negotiating a price is in your best interest. For example: a unique packaging of services for a new type of client, or the pilot or beta testing of a new product or program. 9. If you still think your initial consultation/sales presentation with a client should be for free, set some boundaries and expectations and clearly state the value and your investment in preparing for that initial consultation. Another way to approach this is to charge for the initial consultation at your full rate and if they purchase your product or service, that fee gets applied to the final invoice payment. 10. If you close the sale and get paid on that one sale but provide value-added services of following up in a number of ways, are you losing money from the opportunity costs? Maybe you can charge a small premium to provide stellar customer service. Clients will value it more if they have to pay for it. You have to appreciate what you are worth before your clients will. Decide what you are worth in the marketplace. Be sure your fee or rate has a profitability factor built in. You are worth it.

Summary

Most agendas mean nothing. That guarantees that the meeting will take longer and accomplish less. Here's how to prepare a complete agenda.