Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 Reasons to be glad to see your auditors

The idea of being audited is enough to make anyone cringe. Auditors have long been seen as a company’s worst enemy, causing hassles and slowing work. However, at long last, that reputation is changing. Auditors are now and will continue to become more important in the business world, and here are five reasons why:

5.  Increase productivity and efficiency: An audit provides performance data that can identify points of needed improvement, not only in following regulations, but in levels of productivity and efficiency as well. Activity-based costing is just one method used to identify inefficiencies and weaknesses. It allows management a company wide overview of the costs of each process and output down to each specific department, allowing companies to pinpoint problem areas.  Ultimately saving business money!

4.  Gives management an in depth view of how their policies are followed: Audits can identify short-falls between performance and  best practice standards.  Finding what meets standards is possible first by looking at management documentation system and making sure that that system is operational, and secondly by observing those processes, and checking on the implementation and effectiveness of those systems.  This allows management to see how the practices they've put into place are being used and followed. 

3. Auditors provide feedback: Being audited is no longer just about a pass/fail result.  More and more companies are raising their expectations and getting more back from their auditors.  With a wide range of exposure to varying business practices, auditors can provide a unique perspective on opportunities for improvement.  As they perform their audits they are not just looking for accounting errors, they look at the way things are being done in a broad perspective.  That perspective gives them the opportunity to point out tricks of the trade that may be practiced by one company that could help out another. Ultimately making the company run more smoothly, and making their own job easier the next time around.

2. Preserve public confidence: The primary reason that auditing was put into place by the Securities act in 1933 was to ensure public confidence in publicly traded institutions and it serves that same purpose to this day.  Regular auditing proves to share-holders, board members, government agencies, and the general public that a company is doing what is says it is doing, and doing it in the way that it should be done and is an important element in gaining the trust of the public.

1. Catching fraud: Auditing is second only to insider whistle-blowing at identifying fraudulent activities.  It is a solid method for ensuring that people keep doing what they are suppose to.  The good news is, if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.  So the next time you're auditors stops by, be sure to give them a big smile, and remember why they are a crucial part of a smooth running corporation!

Final. Feelings on Social Media in the Business Environment

We recently had a meeting at work to discuss a branding change the credit union I work at is planning to make. They want to set themselves apart from other financial institutions, presenting themselves as a more approachable, friendly environment where people can come in and get help with their money, rather than feeling like it’s being taken from them and the meeting was to show us how they planned to do it. To get us in the spirit of change they played loud music, fed us free food and drinks, gave out lots of prizes, the CEO even wore a boxing uniform during his presentation. I have to say it was an interesting time. But one of the things that I found most interesting about the meeting was how they encouraged us to add the credit union on Facebook and Twitter.

Part of their new marketing approach is to get involved with the people outside of the brick and mortar credit union and get involved and connected with people’s online lives. While not everyone may love the idea of posting on a companies Facebook and Twitter for a living, the credit union I work for just hired someone to do exactly that. And it’s not the only company out there doing it.

Social media is rapidly become a valuable business resource for many companies. It allows them to reach new audiences and keep in contact with the audience they already have. And it’s opening up an entirely new type of job field. As anyone with even more than one email account knows, keeping up on your online interactions can be time consuming, and sometimes quite a pain, but it has become a part of our daily lives. An obligation people can now be paid to keep up on. I don’t know that I’d say it is a great environment for quality business writing. 140 characters doesn’t give much room for depth, and a Facebook post more than a few sentences long will be passed over by many. But with an online presence in social media that’s not really what they’re aiming for. People who interact with companies through social media want the short and sweet, the personable, unbuttoned version, which means it’s not necessary to produce something overly eloquent or in-depth.

The good or bad in this transition and increase in corporate involvement depends on what you value. If you want to read an in depth analysis of a company you are thinking about investing in, it’s not going to do you much good. But if you want to know what coupon is available at Beauty Brands this week, it certainly will.

Personally, I think I’ll keep my social networking to personal socializing, I certainly don’t need my coworkers checking out my Facebook or creeping on my Twitter. But it’s always good to know what’s available on the wondrous world wide web. And it is going to become more and more available as companies continue to jump on board with this new strategy. =]

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thoughts on Twitter

I'm not really a fan of twitter.  For a few reasons, one of which being that I can't remember which email I used to set mine up and I can't get in. (frustrated.)  But regardless, when it comes to disliking it, I'm in the minority. 

Clearly people like it.  The article Why Twitter Will Endure does a great job of elaborating on why.  It gives people quick access to huge volumes of information.  It can be direct and straight to the point, or lead you down a mysterious link-path to enlightenment, perhaps in something you never knew you cared about. I can certainly see why it has value to people. It just don't see that value applying to my lifestyle...

My problem with twitter is probably rooted in the fact that I'm not a computer person. I don't like them.  I don't like learning how to do new things with them. And i don't like adding more passwords and log-ins to my list.   I can't keep track of my email accounts, add in facebook, linkedin, and every other of a billion websites and what-nots i have some sort of log in or subscription to and I just don't want to mess with it.  And I can't keep my thoughts straight most days anyway, I don't need any more random facts thrown into my mental peripherals. 

Maybe if I owned a small business and wanted to share specials or promotions or update customers on a closing due to bad weather, then sure! If I was in a band and wanted to let people know about a new venue we'd be playing at, a baker with a new recipe to share.  Really I can think of a million things it could be used for.  But unless I'm updating people on how late I'm running to work in the morning or what socks I'm wearing for the day it doesn't do much for me.