Business Processes Re-engineering

When a business grows and adapts it often requires a lot of overhauls, both physically and digitally. Processes that previously worked or were effective for purpose are no longer so. Because of this a business will re-engineer part of its business processes to adapt.

Reasons Why a Business May Adapt its Processes

A business may change the way it functions for many reasons,

  • The business is expanding and it’s old process needs to handle the additional capacity or machinery.
  • The function the old system used to serve has been superseded or removed from the business process as it is no longer required.
  • The business is being merged or acquired by another and duplicate processes need to be removed or increased and vice versa.
  • The process currently being used is not dynamic enough to be useful anymore or is causing issues.
  • A process is failing or is not always effective.
  • The current process has too many avoidable errors.

Reasons Why a Process May Need Changing

A business may change it’s processes for many reasons, such as ; –

  • Improve the speed of operation.
  • Improve the customization or dynamic of a process.
  • Improve the continuity or compatibility to connect the process to other processes.
  • As a reaction to changing legislation, laws or consumer complaints.
  • Improve the efficiency of a process.
  • Improve the operating cost of a process.
  • Improve the output or capacity of a process.
  • Improve the working capital investment in a process.
  • Improve quality of a product.
  • Change the product.

Re-engineering a process not only requires identifying a change but enacting that change can take a lot of steps to complete, especially for products in areas that are heavily reliant on compliance and conformity, such as electrical appliances or medial tools.

Improving Efficiency Caveats

Changing a business process can be risky and should have appropriate risk analysis in place where processes are crucial to the business process or jobs.

Many businesses re-engineer their processes simply to ensure that their product or products match demand. Overhauling business processes may not be financially viable if the number of defects or failing products outweighs the cost of replacing the machinery or software process.

Improving the speed of a process may make the process faster but the business may also want to change the system implemented, such as using a batch process system where the job can be completed as part of a ‘batch’. Having many batches however can lead to greater working capital on complex components or products and can mean that if there is a problem with one then it is likely that the whole batch is also going to fail. Batch processing can also make quality control and quality assurance much harder and more expensive to enact.

Gigabit and More on my Home Network

In a recent pursuit to have the fastest speeds possible at home, I have started to upgrade and replace a large section of my home network.

Ensuring That My Network Runs Fast at its Core

Barring the routing technologies at home the most crucial part of my network is my server, an old Dell Optiplex 780 salvaged from an office clear-out it now spends its days hosting my media, files and applications. One of the first things I did was replace all of the cabling around my network. Most being CAT5 the fastest speeds possible were only 100Mbps, this was a noticeable bottleneck when I checked iPerf3 as the switch its connected to, the router and my PC were all gigabit connected and clearly an oversight on my part. Replacing the cable from it to the switch instantly jumped the speed to gigabit. Yay!

Getting Rid of Old Hardware

Another decision I made was to remove some of my old hardware that was no longer up to the task of Gigabit+ speed. That for me meant swapping out a dumb switch capable of 100Mbps max for a new 8 port gigabit one, oddly I bought the 100Mbps one for £10 and sold it for £14 on Ebay so I guess theres money in old switches.

I then replaced its cables too and viola, 1 Gbps throughput on the whole wired network!

What does the future hold?

After looking at transfer speeds between my server and PC, I think the next step is to replace the Optiplex and my PC, as they are now at the point where their age is starting to be a performance problem, although they remain somewhat performant at their daily duties they are both starting to age poorly with the increasing demand from myself for hosting my projects.

I also want to try SFTP+ but I don’t yet have the SSDs or Hard-drives to necessitate it.

Woodmansy, Beverley UK Weather Current Temperature and Humidity

Hey Thanks for checking out my project, or discovering it organically!

Whats the weather?

This page shows the output of my outdoor box DHT22 Temperature sensor, powered by two 100w solar panels it can sometimes run out of power, especially late at night on miserable days. The data is updated in 15-minute intervals based on three samples. The data is monitored and transmitted from an esp8266 to my web-server, which is then logged in a google spreadsheet and then published here, only the last 500 entries are kept in the chart, which makes the whole chart 15 hours long.

The data on this chart can be better viewed here -> Link

The data on this chart can be better viewed here -> Link

If you would like historical data, please contact me.

Hull University Timetable to Google Calendar

Getting your iCal Link for your Timetable

To add your Hull University Timetable iCal feed to Google Calendar, or equivalent calendar to use on your phone or other devices copy the link below,

webcal://calendars.hull.ac.uk/tcs/Stucal.asp?p1=201700500

replacing the 201700500 with your student ID found on your lanyard.

Adding your Scientia Timetable to Google Calendar

Then open Google Calendar and click the plus symbol highlighted in red like below.

Google Calendar add timetable calendar

Then click From URL and paste your link in. It should appear almost instantly. You should then see the new calendar appear that you can then set up notifications and colors to suit your needs.

Adding your Canvas Calendar

You can also add your canvas calendar which has your deadlines on by going to this link and then adding the link in the bottom right the same way we did above, you should now have all of your calendars in one place!


Note that this does not synchronize your mail.hull.ac.uk calendar which you may receive emails with invitations through, and you can’t because you will see this message that prevents you.

outlook cant share calendar out of network

 

 

I am not associated with Hull University, they’re good guys.

Aspects a business should consider in corporate strategy

Corporate Strategy

 

The way a company’s managers should manage a company should largely be down to the business plan. However there are often external factors limiting a companies business, they may choose to solely benefit shareholders, but practically and legally they must provide some benefit to their employees and their customers to remain socially responsible and have a strong positive public relationship to remain profitable. An umbrella corporation may often have to make strategic decisions to combat potential problems well in the future. In the show Silicon Valley (external) the senior venture capitalist spends a lot of his time studying sesame seed markets in Myanmar and Brazil in order to profit in the future, this example (although fictional and a little overplayed) is a small look into the world of ensuring that profits are maintained and some of the crucial detail that must be taken into account.

The ability to assess the viability of consolidating corporate strategy is not only about turning a profit, but is also about financial and shareholder relations, the capability and flexibility of dynamic and slow moving markets, the technical ability of the employees and manufacturing capabilities as well as cost, the people and manpower involved and the risks undertaken at every stage.

Ensuring that a business has a strategic plan ensures that the company has direction and vision, companies that fail to innovate or differentiate could get left behind or never reach their true potential. A business must define the scope of its operations, how it defines its goals, then how it plans to achieve them, and finally, evaluate. Companies that fail to find a suitable corporate strategy could be left behind and not identify important challenges ahead of time and their current states failings such as their branding or vision.

Aspects a business should consider in corporate strategy.

  • Brand appearance, awareness.
  • Internal Culture
  • Market Segmentation
  • Product, Pricing, Placing, Promotion
  • After sales
  • Research and Development
  • Growth Strategy
  • Human Resources
  • Product and Market Innovation
  • Technology

There are many techniques that businesses use to maintain a strategic advantage, such as Porters strategic matrix (external) and Ansoff’s matrix.

Factors Influencing Demand

A Demand and Supply Graph

Demand and Supply Graph

Factors Influencing Demand

This article serves to supplement the article Influences for Supply and Demand, that I wrote a while ago. For a more general overview of supply and demand, I suggest visiting there first.

Demand has many factors that influence a market, such as;-

  • Changes to the prices to substitute products, such as cheaper products available online or at discount stores could reduce the sales of a premium product or product range.
  • Changes to the availability of complementary goods or changes in the price of complementary goods, such as two large luxury opposing ice cream companies.
  • Disruptions to the supply chain of competitors, such that their prices or other aspects change.
  • The incomes of customers could rise, causing customers to choose superior or premium products, similarly, they could fall and choose less or inferior products, Especially prominent for Elastic products or Luxury Items.
  • Advertising could increase consumer interest or make the product more noticeable to customers or potential customers.
  • Branding or PR could be used more prominently or advertised.
    • Recently companies have opted for using social marketing or guerilla marketing, as it can be more successful or noticeable since ad-blockers and the fall of cable TV and TV Advertising have made it harder to reach consumers.
  • Advertising or Branding of other competitors products could also potentially boost your own profits, especially if the product is generic or seasonal.
  • Changes to consumer incomes.

The demand for a product or service may also depend on the demographics of the product, if it is aimed at older people and the area is a student town, finding customers may be more difficult than other locations.

External Shocks, such as the economy or new technologies that make the product or service obsolete could also negatively affect the products demand if a business fails to innovate or adapt to change.

Corporate Social Responsibility’s Advantages and Disadvantages

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a companies attitude toward respecting the effects that the company may have on things like, the environment, their workers, and the political landscape. Companies may opt to be socially responsible in order to remain positive in the eyes of their customers, this can be difficult for businesses that are fundamentally bad for aspects of society, such as oil or paper companies for the environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Some companies may take some strategic steps to ensure that they are to some effect, marketable or otherwise… socially responsible.

  • Some companies may simply take the philanthropic approach, and sponsor a charity or fundraise a cause. According to the Directory of Social Change‘s ‘The Guide to UK Company Giving’, in 2013, £658 million was given to charity and £369 million was given in 2014. However, the top 25 charitable companies donated 68% of this figure, companies such as Lloyd’s Banking Group, Tesco, and Shell.
  • Some companies use more sustainable resources, such as changing packaging, Switching their resource procurement to more sustainable or conflict free markets.
  • Some companies have co-operatives with their suppliers to ensure that their products’ profits are spread evenly among each chain of the products manufacture, distribution, and retail. Or may simply distribute shares of its company to its employees.

Advantages of Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Having a socially responsible company is marketable and attractive to consumers and buyers.
  • Positive Publicity for positive behavior.
  • Companies are less likely to be singled out or face action from pressure groups or disgruntled consumers.
  • Products are seen as high quality from consumers, even if the product may be inferior from other means.
  • Retention of current employees is more likely if the company treats them well.
  • The brand of the company appears stronger and more attractive to consumers.
  • Regulation and Authoritative Bodies are less likely to take interest in controversial practices.

Disadvantages of Corporate Social Responsibility

  • There is a greater expense in the manufacture of products if they need to be replaced.
  • There is, therefore, an increase in cost and a decrease in contribution from products.
  • If there is a mistake or products are made without renewable sources, for example, they may need to recall some of their products to ensure consistent quality and credibility in their own CSR program.

Companies that are more socially responsible are most likely going to benefit from it, however, if the cost of doing so takes a big hit on productivity, then it may be difficult to convince shareholders.

Branding and Promotion in Business

 

Branding and Promotion allows a business to present itself in an identifiable way to the consumer that allows them to leave a slight lasting impression of their existence that should aide repeat purchase or identification of their qualities.

Types of Business Promotion

  • Advertising – The most common way of increasing brand coverage is through advertising, because of the potential reach and scale of platforms advertising is available on it is very easy to meet the metric a business desires, this also has become more easy to segment further by having online advertising to deliver ads on a uniquely measurable and quantifiable scale, whereas before the amount of impressions and effectiveness of the adverts was not individually classifiable in the real world, using online advertising changes the game as advertisers are able to segment the market down to the age, location and interest.
  • Promotions – Offering promotions allow a business to make itself more noticeable to the consumer as they will see the promotion as a deal, and then associate the product and brand. Promotion may also increase brand awareness by sponsoring a stadium or event, that allows them to receive some of the publicity that the stadium has with it.
  • Direct Marketing – Marketing to the customer directly through more orthodox methods, such as telemarketing or shopping channels, typically requires a lot of sales cost and sometimes isn’t always effective expenditure, whereas advertising or promotion is more effective at reaching consumers as they are able to form their own opinions, rather than have one forced upon them.

Benefits of Strong Branding

Having a strong brand enables a business to sell to their consumers consistently as consumers will actively recognize and seek out their brand. A strong brand is identifiable, recognizable, aspirational and flexible.

Having a strong brand should enable a business to sell its added value effectively to customers, provide the brand with the ability to charge for the brand at a premium rate and have a reduced price elasticity of demand; enabling them to sell to customers even though there are competitors.

Branding and Promotion Word Cloud

Building a Strong Brand

Building a strong brand can be hard to get right.

  • Having a Unique Selling Point allows the customer to differentiate their brand from the others, having something other than a generic product allows the business to market on that principal and build their brand on its effectiveness to the consumer.
  • Using Advertising should increase coverage of their brand and make it recognizable to potential customers.
  • Sponsorship enables businesses to build a positive relationship with their customers, sponsoring a racing event, for example, presents a positive relationship for customers who watch the race, and need one of the sponsor’s products.
  • Social Media and Online presence allow a business to be seen from the internet.
    • Viral Marketing and Guerrilla Marketing allow a business to sell its products, often without the need for expensive advertising budgets. However, this tactic can often be hit and miss.
    • Emotional Marketing can be used to target the emotions of a customer, by playing on the nostalgic or romantic side of individuals for example.
  • Seasonal Marketing can be used to reach customers during festivities and events.

 

The Design Mix

The Design Mix consists of three components, often arranged in a triangle,

  • Aesthetics – How the product looks.
  • Function – How the product performs its task.
  • Economic Manufacture (Cost to Produce) – How much it costs to produce the product.

Examples of paradigms the Design Mix,

Aesthetics

Maintaining a good product image that will appeal to customers is only one small portion of aesthetics, one must also consider consistency and differentiation. A product may be very aesthetic but may have shortfalls when it is used or may have a much lower profit margin than other products of lesser quality. A product like a smartphone that is top of the line may look and feel better than its competitors, however if it has a small processor that cannot perform tasks to the same standard as other phones on the market, it may be left behind when other competition sacrifices some of their aesthetics for performance, such as a camera bump or metal case for use as an antenna for better reception. Typically when a product is made, Aesthetics are one of the first considerations, whilst also factoring in cost.

Function

An Ink-jet printer is much less functional than a modern day laser printer, however for most people, all they require is at most a few family photos, therefore a cheap, and a possibly unreliable printer would be more preferable than an expensive laser printer.

Additionally, most people would much prefer a non-consumable product over one that requires a refill or maintenance if the products are functionally similar, with the exceptions being things like coffee machines, where it is much quicker to have it made from a capsule.

Therefore the functionality of a product and its associated cost must also be considered.

Economic Manufacture

A company that wishes to sell its products must do so at a profit, selling highly functional products with aesthetic appeal may move a lot of orders, but if the business does not cover its break-even cost it may struggle to expand.

Design Mix Triangle

A Design Mix Triangle can be used to show the struggles between the relationship of each corner, a product may be functional and aesthetic, but not economical to manufacture.

Changes in Response to Social Change

  • Concern over limited global resources
  • Reducing Waste
  • Reusing Materials
  • Recycling
  • Reducing Consumables
  • Ethical Sourcing and Management
  • Fair Trade

 

Factors Influencing Supply

A Demand and Supply Graph

Demand and Supply Graph

Factors Influencing Supply

This article serves to supplement the article Influences for Supply and Demand, that I wrote a while ago. For a more general overview of supply and demand, I suggest visiting there first.

Supply has many factors that influence a market, such as;-

  • The availability of raw materials.
  • The time it takes to process a set, batch or quantity of stock, like aged wine or hard sweets.
  • Disruptions to the distribution chain of competitors, such that their prices or other aspects change.
  • Natural Disasters utility supply issues or storage issues.
  • Advertising could increase consumer interest or make the product more noticeable to customers or potential customers and cause a shortage due to unforeseen interest or popularity.
  • Branding or PR could be used more prominently or advertised to cause similar consequence.
  • New Machinery or Technology could make the production of items much less time consuming or much cheaper such as new methods of batch processing.
  • A monopoly may artificially limit the availability or raise the price or perform anti-competitively.
  • Automation could speed up production and therefore increase availability.
  • Government Subsidy or Tariffs could increase or decrease supply in a domestic market.
    • A subsidy devised to increase sales in a companies domestic market could raise consumer interest.
    • A company may be forced to maintain a domestic market orientation as shipping externally may not be competitive due to tariffs.

The overall effectiveness of a product is readily available to be supplied by manufacturers depends on consumer interest, the availability of raw materials and the lead time it takes to produce a product.

Agricultural products may be much harder to maintain during droughts or other natural disasters as they take the time to grow naturally and no amount of investment can speed up the process much more than what people are willing to pay for.