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Supply Chain Optimization for Wholesale Distributors

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

It is true that wholesale distributors are operating within a challenging global environment. Things have been tumultuous since the global economic crisis of 2007/2008 and widespread instability has impacted this industry, just as it has in many others. Wholesale distributors are experiencing increasing and/or unstable costs, shrinking margins, increasingly demanding customers, and new competitors coming from places that were not expected. These external forces are problematic for wholesale distributors, and to not only weather the storm, but hopefully to thrive, decisive action must be taken. The supply chain can be optimized to provide the answer in 4 key different ways:

 

  • Demand planning

Create a robust and forward looking demand plan, segmented at an appropriate level – i.e. by product, customer, geography, and sales channel.

 

  • Optimize inventory

This of course ties into point one – once you have a good idea of what the demand will be then you can plan the inventory to match the demand. This is basic demand and supply, and not getting stuck with stock that is not required and/or being short of stock that customers are willing to pay good money for.

 

  • Transport optimization

One of the biggest costs for wholesale distributors is usually transport costs. There are route planning tools available that can offer large cost savings by optimizing routes. Not only is it a cost saving opportunity, but it may be the difference between the customer getting their order on time, or not!

 

  • Integrate planning processes

We spoke about planning demand and supply, but a more powerful tool is to integrate that detail with risk and market change planning. This allows for a more predictable integrated planning process.

 

As is often the case, it is when businesses are most under pressure that to recover and to thrive they need to invest. This is the case here, as all of the suggestions have financial repercussions. This may mean needing to raise additional funding, but the success of wholesale distributors in the coming years will be dependent on investing in technology and planning.

 

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Are you being underpaid? – 5 Ways to Find Out

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Financial reward is a huge motivational factor for most people, regardless of what line of work you are in. They say money makes the world go round and let’s face it, not many people choose to work for free. So it is obviously a high priority for employees to ensure they are getting paid the going rate. For years there has been a growing awareness that there is an equality gap when it comes to pay, with many women being left short-changed. Unfairness with respect to salaries is not just a gender issue either; there are many people who find themselves in the situation where they are being underpaid for their services.

 

Here is how you can find out if you are being underpaid:

 

  1. Salary Comparison – It is much easier these days to find out the average salary for your role. Unless you have a very unique and uncommon type of job, you should be able to use apps like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth.

 

  1. Advertised Jobs – Do a bit of research on what the typical salary is for your role by checking job websites and apps. You might find that salaries have changed significantly for your type of role. For example, there is a much higher demand for highly skilled IT based roles and this has been reflected in pay structures at most businesses.

 

  1. Speak to recruiters – Even if you’re not looking to move to another company, get linked up with a recruiter and they may be able to give you some inside knowledge into what you should expect to get paid. You may even find that they have a job that is perfect for you and with a better salary!

 

  1. Self-evaluation – You should have a fairly good idea of how well you are performing against other colleagues in the same role. If you know that you are performing better and not seeing financial recognition for that, or you have been in the same role for a while without a pay rise, you should be asking questions.

 

  1. Colleague lifestyles – People don’t usually openly discuss their salaries, but if you can see that your same level colleagues are enjoying the high life and you are struggling to make ends meet, then ask yourself why. There could be a simple explanation like they are living beyond their means or you have outgoings that they don’t have, but if there are no obvious reasons for the lifestyle gap then you could be getting underpaid.

 

Nobody should have to accept being underpaid, and there are so many options to check average salaries that make it easy to work out if you are affected. If you don’t take action now you could be losing out on a huge amount of money over the remainder of your career.

Project Management and Change Management – Both Vital To Strategic Change

Project Management and Change Management – Both Vital To Strategic Change

By Morgan International Staff Writers

It is common for the terms ‘project management’ and ‘change management’ to be used interchangeably, but they are actually two different disciplines. They encroach on one another when an organisation implements strategic change, but their objectives are completely different.
One focuses on implementing change on a practical basis, and the other on how people are affected by that change:
• The aim of a project manager is to ensure that project goals are met on a practical level, using a fixed strategic plan and timeline of events. It is easy to see if a project is falling behind, as milestones are included between the fixed start and end dates.

• A change manager, on the other hand, does not follow such a rigid plan, although they do use processes and methodologies to achieve their goal of minimising impact. Change management has to be fluid by nature, to address the ongoing concerns of staff and other stakeholders about the project and its effect on them.
What does a project manager do?
The role of a project manager is to ensure the project is delivered on time, using well-established and clearly-defined methodologies. They use their leadership, organisational, and communication skills with the aim of effecting a seamless transition.
• Arranging meetings and communicating progress to other members of the project team, corporate executives, stakeholders, and anyone else involved in the strategic plans
• Ensuring deadlines are met, and that the project stays on track
• Managing the risks inherent in any large-scale project
And what is the role of the change manager?
Reorganisation and transformation can affect staff on many levels, and it is the role of the change manager to make the physical process of making changes smoother, minimising delays caused by stakeholder reluctance.
Change managers will be part of the overall project team, attending meetings, and working to help staff accept and better deal with the forthcoming changes on a day-to-day basis.
• Encouraging stakeholder acceptance of the change
• Promoting the value of its implementation
• Minimising the anxieties and concerns of staff
Project management and change management each require specific knowledge and expertise. Learn the skills needed in a project or change management role and further your career by enrolling on one of our accredited training programs.

Internal Audit and the Vital Connection with Cybersecurity

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

The internal audit function provides a safety net for companies by identifying risk, and offering advice on how to manage it. With widespread and increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, the risk to business has become alarmingly high in recent years.

In fact, a 2017 government survey shows that cyber breaches or attacks affected nearly half of firms in the UK during the past year.¹ So how can an internal audit department help their company reduce exposure to cyber attacks, and deal with them effectively if they occur?

Independent cyber risk assessment

A risk assessment by the internal audit function establishes the strengths and weaknesses of any existing strategy, and helps to implement a stronger plan to deal effectively with current threats.

A completed assessment would include:

  • Potential origins of a cyber attack: for example, an organised gang of cyber criminals, a single independent hacker, business competitors, or someone working for the company
  • Reason for an attack: potentially financial, purely disruptive, reputation damage, or theft of strategic plans
  • How an attack might occur: phishing emails, stolen personal information, vulnerabilities in hardware or software programmes

Advise management on the level of risk and its management

Having assessed the measures currently in place, internal audit can advise management on their effectiveness, and suggest potential changes or updates. They will provide information on:

  • Existing and emerging cyber threats
  • Vulnerability of the business to cyber attack
  • A strategy to mitigate and manage risks in the long-term
  • Plans to deal with the crisis if an attack occurs

Once new systems are in place, or existing cybersecurity measures updated, internal audit carry out what is potentially the most important aspect of their role – testing compliance and discovering the effectiveness or otherwise of security and recovery plans.

After an attack

Internal audit should work alongside the IT department at every stage, and if the company is unfortunate enough to suffer an attack, use newly-found information to re-evaluate plans in the future.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue for every business - even the smallest enterprise is at great risk. It is crucial, therefore, that personnel understand how to prevent such an attack on a day-to-day basis. To increase your knowledge in this area and help to safeguard your company, have a look at the accredited training courses on our website.

¹https://www.gov.uk/government/news/almost-half-of-uk-firms-hit-by-cyber-breach-or-attack-in-the-past-year

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/609186/Cyber_Security_Breaches_Survey_2017_main_report_PUBLIC.pdf

http://www.accountingweb.com/aa/auditing/internal-audits-critical-role-in-cybersecurity

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/risk/articles/cybersecurity-internal-audit-role.html

 

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Is your supply chain healthy?

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Health is a term more typically thought of in relation to medical science – but in fact more and more frequently it is used in a business context. This is particularly true when it is a business system such as a supply chain, which in itself is an ecosystem, with various suppliers, customers, FX, and demand and supply. What we are seeing a lot of recently is businesses analysing the various components of their supply chain, assessing health, and then using this as a way to find the gaps/opportunities and then make changes so that the health improves. In many supply chains there is a tiered structure with primary and secondary, and even tertiary suppliers. Very often management for the secondary tier is managed by the primary tier, and the tertiary managed by the secondary. Therefore in that case the ultimate company would still be advised to set the standards for good health. The key areas of health to be aware of are:

 

  • Financial Health – Is the supplier viable and a going concern from a financial perspective? There are a number of factors that need to be assessed including the financial statements and all key ratios such as liquidity and gearing. Furthermore, company credit reports should be sought which will highlight any issues such a failure to pay invoices and so on.

 

  • Company structure – It is important to know if a supplier is part of a wider structure and who you are contracting with, i.e. who is responsible for the obligation to you. One aspect to consider is that in the event the contract is proposed to be with a smaller group entity, a parental guarantee may be sought.

 

  • Strategy – Is there a strategy for the short, medium, and long term? Does the business have a robust road map, and are they aware of how market forces may affect them?

 

  • Location – Is the supplier located in a high risk location? For example are they producing goods for you in a location known to be a target of terrorism? This of course could impact on their ability to deliver and in turn effect the health of the supply chain.

 

  • Compliance – Good suppliers will have robust policies and procedures and will be compliant with internal and external obligations. This may include those to regulators and to the governments, and also their obligations to their customers.

 

In summary, as with health in all respects, it is measured across a number of different factors. Regardless of who is managing the supplier chain, the company should set standards for health, and a good way to do this is by using a balanced scorecard which has both quantitative and qualitative measures.

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Maximising Human Capital in the Middle East

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

The importance of having the right people in the right job is instrumental in the success of many businesses around the world. Different workplaces may take differing approaches to how they rate and nurture talent, but few would disagree that people are one of the top assets any business has. Research shows that people management and development is prioritized in different ways according to the area of the world they are in. For example, in the Middle East top management levels are increasingly seeing the importance of talent management and the whole recruit > retain > develop cycle.

 

There are mixed views on distinguishing between people and talent. Some say that due to the fact that people’s circumstances can change, they should not be labelled as ‘talent’. They could be performing well in one role but then move into another where they are less able to perform at the required level. So categorizing specific people as ‘talent’ is not considered beneficial by some.

 

Furthermore, it can have a negative impact on those who find themselves to be left out of that designated talent pool. It can be hugely demotivating to see other employees get preferential treatment such as promotions or development programs based on a level of performance they demonstrated at some point in the past. This limits the ability for those deemed as not talented to progress in any way and therefore is cutting off development pathways for many who could have otherwise flourished.

 

It is interesting to reflect on the current human capital trends in the Middle East. The fact that many workers are expatriates impacts the way that talent is perceived. There is a huge concern that local workers become alienated by the ‘more talented’ people moving to the area to take up high level roles. Due to these worries, the governments in the area encourage a strategy that sees all employees as talent. Rather than closing off opportunities, they keep career pathways open to anyone that can show potential in the future.

 

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Middle East Human Trends report, The Middle East human capital trends have seen Organizational design take the place as the top overall trend. The global ranking sees Leadership as the top trend and Culture ranks at 6th in the Middle East compared to the global ranking of 3rd. The differences in the trends across the world and in the Middle East are fascinating and next year’s results will be highly anticipated to see how things progress.

 

3 Top Tips to Start Currency Trading

3 Top Tips to Start Currency Trading

By Morgan International Staff Writers

When most of us think about forex trading, we think of fast paced excitement – the market itself is indeed open 24 hours a day, 5 days per week (except for holidays). For many it is a job, and for others it is more of a sport that they dabble in at the weekends. There are plenty of apps available for those who want to have a go with play money – just to see if they are cut out to be Wolf of Wall Street material. However, playing with hard cash is a different matter altogether, and whilst some may make it look easy, the reality is that those who are successful have a sophisticated understanding of how to buy and sell currencies. These are our top 3 tips to start successfully currency trading:

 

  • Find a trusted broker

Do your research and find a broker or large market maker who is regulated – preferably in at least two countries. It is paramount that your investment is in good hands, therefore ensure you pick a trusted broker who can evidence good practice and results for their clients.

 

  • Learn, learn and learn some more

All trades should be made upon a strong foundation of research. Blindly trading is gambling in its purest form. It would be like backing a horse without reading the form first. Forex is a complex market and therefore undertaking advanced analysis is imperative. As it is real time, it is useful to set up news alerts from the internet onto your phone so you know what is happening on the move, and react accordingly.

 

  • Pick a trading platform that suits you

Brokers use different types of software, and some invest more or less heavily in functionality, cross platform use, and the user interface. Most brokers allow you to set up a demo account and test out the software before committing to trading with real money. It is advisable to have a demo of their software and check that it works for you.

 

The media does a great job at making the Forex markets seem like an exciting and lucrative place to be. However, it is typically lucrative only for those who are experienced and well researched in the market itself. That said, a great place to start is with a demo account, having a go, and then taking it from there.

 

Masters of Scale

 

3 Ways to Productively Work with an Influencer

3 Ways to Productively Work With an Influencer

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Influencer marketing has been something of a buzz phrase this year, with more and more marketing professionals turning to this method to get results. The whole idea of influencer marketing is hardly a new concept, people have been getting paid for ‘name dropping’ brands for years - but it seems to have reached a new level of popularity in marketing strategies in 2017.
Influencer marketing has been harnessing the reach of social media, so highly respected people, either celebrities or experts in the relevant line of business are being utilized to promote brands and increase brand awareness and trust. This has worked well for many businesses and continues to be an effective marketing method.

However, there is also the concern that an influencer could have a negative impact on your brand. For example, they may send a badly received tweet and their connection with your brand could cause serious reputational damage. Therefore it is highly important to set up a productive way of working with an influencer.

1. Monitoring

Influencers will generally not like to feel like they are being monitored, but if you are paying for their services, you have a right to keep a check on how they are communicating. Real time monitoring will ensure if a controversial tweet is sent, you can try and limit the damage by getting it removed quickly and preparing a line of response. You should also work with the influencer to ensure they are aware of the impact their actions can have on your brand.

2. Authenticity

Striking the balance between monitoring and controlling the content that goes out and ensuring it comes across as authentic can be difficult. It can be hard to let go and give an influencer free reign to say what they like. However, if what they communicate doesn’t seem to reflect their genuine, authentic views, then their followers will see straight through this. You must build trust with the influencer so that you feel comfortable letting them get on with the work.

3. Audience relevance

One of the most important factors in achieving success with influencer marketing is making sure that you are reaching the right audience. It is pointless getting a celebrity who is followed by predominantly teenagers to promote a brand that is targeted at an older generation of audience.

Influencer marketing is hot right now because it is seeing successful outcomes. As long as you can develop a highly productive way to work with the influencer, this marketing channel could be highly beneficial to your brand. It is an ideal time to consider consulting with a CDMS (Certified Digital Marketing Specialist) qualified professional.

Accounting vs HR: the Battle for Control over Payroll

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

In most organisations, payroll answers to the accounting function rather than Human Resources. But payroll issues are interlinked between the two departments, and a further argument could be made for sharing payroll duties and responsibilities between them.

The topic has been the subject of extensive debate, but considering the advances in technology over recent years, operating a cloud-based combined payroll, HR, and accounting system seems like a natural next step.

Accounting department vs Human Resources

What are the main arguments when deciding where payroll should be located?

  • Payroll is a business expense, so the function should report to the accounting department
  • Company personnel are its biggest asset, therefore payroll should be under the control of HR

In reality, it would serve a company well to integrate the payroll function into both departments via a cloud-based software system that provides joint access, although at first glance the contrast between HR and finance roles seems to suggest otherwise:

  • On the one hand, HR needs to ensure employee welfare and maintain good relations – a fluid task depending on the individual employee
  • On the other hand, finance must fully comply with regulations and aim for total accuracy with wages and other payments – a defined and precise remit

So what advantages might this type of cloud software offer an organisation?

Advantages of using cloud-based human capital management systems

  • Improved efficiency with access to combined information and data banks
  • Better compliance with ever-changing HR and finance legislation
  • Recruitment and pay issues viewed as a whole, rather than in isolation
  • Payroll accuracy improved, boosting staff morale and performance
  • Real-time information assists hiring and firing decisions

Potential issues of using a joint cloud-based system include data confidentiality, and reluctance between the two departments to share information about employees. Additionally, some organisations may remain reluctant to fully embrace cloud-based technology, viewing it as unorthodox, mainly due to a lack of understanding.

You can further your career in accounting, HR, and payroll by taking further professional qualifications. Have a look at our website for a wide selection of business courses that can propel you to the next stage on your career path.

4 Rules to be a Prudent Investor

4 Rules to be a Prudent Investor

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

When talking of investments, many will speak of being a prudent investor. The word Prudent traces back to Middle French and the Latin verb providēre which means to see ahead, foresee, and provide (for). The word is a natural choice when speaking of investments. We would like to share our 4 rules to be a prudent investor and therefore make strong returns whilst not being exposed to an undue amount of risk.

 

  • Primarily invest in major index stocks and bonds

Major index stocks and the more frequently held bonds move more predictably. Remember that these often have long histories so that trends can be observed and analysed over many years. They also tend to be less shocked by market forces. We are not saying not to invest in small caps and foreign bonds too, but ensure the primary investment is in the big and established stocks and bonds.

 

  • Diversify – but not too much

In your portfolio you should have a prudent level of diversification. Clearly you do not want to be spread too thin, but consider commodities, property, and perhaps even emerging market stocks. Clearly the less traditional the asset class, the higher the level of risk, and the reward too.

 

  • Review often

Review the portfolio often and take action accordingly. This might include withdrawing from certain investments and ‘cashing in’, or perhaps deciding to take a loss. The prudent investors frequently review their portfolio (often multiple times a day using real time apps).

 

  • Minimize fees

There will be many small fees across the portfolio for various types of transactions – buying stock, selling stock etc. These add up, particularly with a complex portfolio. These costs should be kept track off and streamlined where possible.

 

The prudent investor is mindful of the tips above, and also takes advice from a professionally qualified Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) when they need some extra support and/or information.