Mark Anderson

Thursday, 23 June 2005 20:00

Plan for success

Mergers and acquisitions seem more the norm today than the exception, especially in the private sector.

Successfully completing a merger or acquisition transaction is not merely a matter of signing on the dotted line. Rather, it requires meticulous planning and cautious execution. Any business owner deliberating a sale or capital investment should first thoroughly assess eight key factors that could potentially make or break the deal.

* Knowledge is power. If you are considering venturing into a merger, acquisition or any large financial transaction, it is important that you fully understand the dynamics of the capital markets and the valuation and structural complexities they may bring.

Embark on a thorough review of your organization's competitive strengths and plans for growth to help you place your organization in a better position to maximize value. In addition, pinpoint the source of major, one-time expenses, accounting issues or economic conditions that may be skewing overall results.

Appraise all of the structuring options -- e.g., stock versus asset purchase -- along with their benefits and drawbacks. In an M&A transaction, all actions have tax implications, financial ramifications and legal consequences, and many times, a shrewd negotiator can take advantage of what you do not know or understand. Come to the table prepared.

* Now or later. Timing is everything. Before jumping into a transaction, you need to identify your personal objectives and valuation expectations. Assess the current conditions of the capital markets and the state of the economy, and determine how these external factors may impact the value of your business.

This inner debate may reveal inconsistencies. Whatever this assessment reports, you will be armed with the vital details you need to effectively prepare for and execute the best strategy for success.

* Your exit strategy. Who will be the boss after you leave? This is an important question to answer with confidence. In any M&A transaction, maximizing an organization's enterprise value is usually the objective, and a viable succession plan is a key means to preserving this value.

A business owner should plan three to five years in advance. Your replacement team will need time for an education so business performance can be sustained after you leave. A well-built management team is a precious asset in any M&A transaction.

* Balance your books. A meticulous, dependable audit is a crucial part of any successful investment, and some investors will not even look twice without it. So audit your financial statements before you begin a deal.

* Keep it simple. Reasonably, the harder something is, the less likely you are to do it. Emphasize the positive and communicate your business's value with clarity, logic and authenticity -- make it easy to understand and believe.

* Due diligence. A wise buyer requires the necessary information, good and bad, to make an informed decision. Be prepared to answer tough questions.

Consider possible risks and think of what you would ask if you were the buyer. Outline your plans for growth, and illustrate your viability and strengths. More important, be ready to discuss your weaknesses and your plans to conquer them.

* Don't forget your day job. Never neglect the main task of running your business. While the M&A process is consuming, it will only reap reward if your business continues to flourish. Your primary objective should still center on optimal business performance.

* Consult with an expert. Financial, tax and legal issues may surface. Your side will need razor-sharp, diverse expertise to guarantee the deal lends to your advantage. Designate a competent team of loyal advisers who can assist you when these issues arise. This will help increase the probability of a triumphant M&A experience.

Reach Mike McCoy at (312) 899-7302 or mmccoy@crowecapital.com. Reach Matt Anderson at (312) 899-7309 or manderson@crowecapital.com.

 

Wednesday, 17 December 2003 11:25

Your next hire is online

According to Pew Internet, 70 percent of the U.S. population is online; 50 percent of those people have high-speed Internet access.

What does this mean for you and your company?

It means that you can get your job advertising recruitment message in front of qualified candidates faster and more easily than ever before. There are various ways of accomplishing this.

The first and most obvious way, using the Internet as a recruitment vehicle, is to make sure that you have an effective job board strategy in place. Job boards such as Monster, HotJobs and CareerBuilder, along with industry niche and geography specific Web sites, will continue to be the primary online recruitment vehicle for most positions. Job boards provide the most inexpensive method of getting your jobs in front of job-seekers.

However, while they are the best vehicles for reaching job-seekers, they are not going to help you reach those perfect candidates who are gainfully and happily employed. Loyal, hardworking, effective people often have great job security and don't have the time or the desire to browse job boards.

Attracting these types of people takes creativity and targeted profiling techniques that have been used by corporate giants in America to market their products and services to potential customers. There are various methods for utilizing the Internet to reach potential candidates, such as targeted e-mail campaigns, buttons, banners, tiles, skyscrapers and "pop-unders."

One great thing about the Internet is that as it has developed and grown in functionality and popularity, so has the sophistication of the tracking and profiling capabilities used by Web sites that are interested in the demographics and psychographics of their visitors. This information will allow you to get your message in front of only the candidates you wish to target.

There are various techniques for establishing the profile of the person you want to hire, but a few have proven more effective than others. One of the best is the construction of profiles based on the most successful individuals within your organization.

This is far from a new concept, but exactly what type of profile you are building is very important. For the targeted reach that the Internet can provide, it is important that you talk extensively to your "A" players as to how they use the Internet.

Are they all utilizing online banking services? Do they all regularly visit Weather.com? Are they playing games online? Do they check their stocks on a particular site? Do they tune in to Dilbert.com for the cartoon of the day? Find out their hobbies and interests, and you might be surprised.

By determining where and when your top performers are spending their online time, along with how often they frequent these destinations, you can start crafting your recruitment strategy for reaching out to individuals who share the same profile.

The power of the Internet is available; the challenge is in how you harness the full capabilities of the Web to get your message in front of your target audience, in this case, potential employment candidates. While newspapers are still a viable recruiting outlet in some cases, they are quickly becoming what the encyclopedia has become to research.

As the markets rebound and hiring growth returns to normal levels, it will become increasingly important to proactively have a recruitment strategy in place to reach out to both active job-seekers and passive ideal candidates.

The good news is that thanks to the reach made possible by the Internet, you can now get your job advertising recruitment message in front of qualified potential candidates faster and more easily than ever before.

Mark Anderson (manderson@trustarsolutions.com) is part of TruStar Solutions' executive team as the director of business solutions. He has been a featured writer for various industry publications on the topics of human capital and sales strategy. Prior to joining TruStar Solutions, he worked in the financial industry for organizations including Home Gold Financial and Bank One Corp. Reach him at (317) 813-0500 or www.trustarsolutions.com.

Thursday, 24 February 2005 11:22

Supply chain fire prevention

Supply chain professionals frequently deal with recurring issues. These issues recur because they're too busy putting out fires to work on fire prevention. The make great fire fighters, but they really need to become great problem-solvers.

A solutions approach

A supply chain problem-solver takes an integrated solutions approach to identify and eliminate the cause of an issue once and for all. An integrated approach begins with the big concerns and attacks them in a methodical way.

* Develop a simple process map around the issue.

* Assess any trends associated with the issue.

* Evaluate the upstream and downstream drivers and consequences.

* Assess the effect on overall performance.

The objective is to resolve the problem by determining the true cause while fully evaluating the potential consequences of the solution and mitigating any possible resulting consequences.

The big concerns

Consider the areas with the highest payoff first. When approached with a solutions methodology, putting a permanent fix in place will yield dramatic results in your business costs.

There are five key areas that present opportunities to reduce cost and eliminate chaos from your supply chain.

1. Variability. Variability increases your business costs. Minimizing the effects of fluctuations will drive improved results in every case. While you might not be able to control the fluctuations, you can mitigate their effects.

* Demand (seasonality, unforeseen demand, forecast error)

* Supply (raw materials, inventory accuracy, obsolescence, labor)

* Capacity (seasonal over/under utilization, network optimization)

* Quality (raw materials, supplies, WIP, finished goods)

2. Transportation. Inbound and outbound, CL, LCL, TL, LTL and parcel all represent opportunities to improve customer service and reduce costs. Through careful study or professional help you can:

* Recover overcharges and settlement fees

* Rate shop to negotiate and route guides

* Reduce total transportation spending with a network analysis

3. Inventory management. Companies rarely optimize the processes which drive inventory levels. Excess inventory can drain capital as well as human resources. To improve inventory levels:

* Use ABC stratification to increase control over high-dollar-volume items.

* Design forecasting models utilizing history, trends and market intelligence.

* Focus on product cost control using forward purchases and inventory builds where appropriate.

* Closely monitor finished goods for signs of obsolescence that burns valuable production capacity.

4. Get synchronized. Improving the basic communication between sales and operations can yield significant cost savings. Any good sales and operations synchronization plan will include five key factors.

* Long-range (12 to 24 months) sales planning

* Long-range capacity planning

* Long-range business planning

* Accountability for forecast accuracy and capacity management

* Financial impact analysis

5. Metrics. Is your supply chain organization getting better or worse? Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be established and closely monitored to respond appropriately and immediately to any problems. Establishing pertinent KPIs will:

* Provide a general management tool to monitor performance

* Help drive continuous improvement

* Identify issues before they hit your bottom line

* Influence business planning

* Force accountability

Professional supply chain management involves an integrated solutions approach -- fire prevention rather than fire fighting. Proactive focus in these key areas can significantly impact the operating and financial performance of most businesses.

Bill Anderson is the supply chain national practice leader for Xperianz, a professional services firm specializing in business cost reduction and leveraging technology for competitive advantage. Xperianz is one of the fastest growing firms in North America, with offices throughout the Midwest and Southeast. Reach Anderson at (513) 576-1970, ext. 111.

Tuesday, 25 May 2004 06:27

Solid foundation

Building a successful Internet recruitment strategy is much like building a custom home.

It takes careful planning, the proper mix of supplies and labor, a well-coordinated and well-thought-out scheduling of components, and most important, a good initial vision. To really understand what it takes to build the custom dream home recruitment strategy, one must first understand that the primary benefits of the using Internet are that it is fast, easy and relatively inexpensive to generate candidates.

Below are five components that should be included in the blueprint for your successful dream home recruitment strategy.

 

1. Candidate database. Some type of private, searchable database is critical to a successful strategy. With a little research, you can find a suitable database regardless of how challenging your budget is.

Solutions range from as high to as low as you can afford to pay, depending on what functionality you can or can't live without.

 

2. Centralized recruitment. Too often, companies keep recruitment as just another part of a human resource generalist's duties. Unless the company is very small or has virtually no turnover, this approach will usually be a strategy killer and result in increased use of expensive third-party search firms.

Ideally, a company would have dedicated recruiters broken out by functional area, with a close working relationship with the hiring managers in those functional areas -- an in-house search firm, so to speak. This enables those recruiters to become specialists in their areas and be very effective.

 

3. Job boards. Now it is time to frame the house. Since your private, searchable database is ready to start receiving candidates, and your focused recruiters are ready to start screening resumes, it is time to generate your candidate pool.

First, identify the foundational board or boards for the strategy. This will guarantee an influx of candidates and allow for the support of all kinds of positions throughout the organization.

The next step is to identify key niche job boards whose candidate profile is similar to that of your company work force. For example, a large IT company's strategy may consist of two foundational boards, one or two IT-specific boards and a diversity site or two.

By incorporating the proper mix of general and niche sites, you ensure not only a large candidate pool but a quality one as well.

 

4. Streamline sourcing solutions. If a strategy includes three or more job boards, and a manual posting and sourcing strategy is in place, it is important to provide cost-effective technology to enable the recruiters to post jobs to multiple job boards from a single interface and also to source resumes from a single interface.

 

5. Narrowing or screening technology. Like candidate databases, there are a slew of solutions to help screen and narrow the candidate pool. Choose one that will fit within your price range, because without this component, you risk severely limiting the number of job requisitions that can be effectively supported by your recruiters, not to mention the risk of burnout by those recruiters.

 

The difference between a successful Internet recruitment strategy and an unsuccessful one may be just a few subtle changes in your blueprint design specifications. Instead of cutting back on the budget, the answer may be to slightly increase it.

Your dream home recruitment strategy may be a lot closer than you realize. Mark Anderson (manderson@trustarsolutions.com) is part of TruStar Solutions' executive team as the director of business solutions. He has been a featured writer for various industry publications on the topics of human capital and sales strategy. Prior to joining TruStar Solutions, he worked in the financial industry for organizations including Home Gold Financial and Bank One Corp. Reach him at (317) 813-0500.