BUSINESS KNOW HOW
Have a look at some of the examples I have chosen that show the way my business know how helped to solve business problems, assisted in a company’s recovery or helped it grow. It is possible that one of the cases resembles that in your business. In that case, you have even more reason to contact me.
EXAMPLE 1 Consultancy Project. Construction of the Internal Management System
The company was founded 10 years ago. Initially, it employed several employees and was traditionally managed by means of manual management techniques and simple accounting. As the business grew, the company gradually increased the scope of its orders. As a result, the value of its fixed assets increased. The number of employees increased as well – up to about 200 people working in different locations. The company was directly managed by its owner. He used the same methods and hardly ever delegated tasks.
With the development of the market and competition, the owner of the company began to notice that in the negotiations and tenders he could not properly estimate the tender opportunities of the company. He was not able to specify the costs of services provided. In addition, he noted that he had
lost control over the execution of orders and that the level of current expenses on orders was too high. He also noted that for unknown reasons, the revenue and financial surplus had shrunk. The situation began to slip out of control. Bad mood was compounded by the owner’s overwhelming
fatigue resulting from a growing number of business cases and the sense that he was not able to keep abreast of the developments.
Responding to the needs of the business owner, I made the diagnosis of this situation as an independent auditor. On the other hand, as an expert – the business advisor of the company, I formulated a proposal for a change consisting in building an internal control system and a functional reorganization of the company.
These changes were aimed at:
- improving the control of the business assets including money;
- increasing the efficiency of performed tasks and orders and expenditures;
- introducing a business information management system, based on a dedicated DMS-class IT tool
- integrated with the Financial – Accounting IT system already used by the company;
- improving (as a consequence of the previous task) the organization of work and process
- management through eliminating duplication of activities, activities, master data, files and registers;
- building the company’s business, finance and manufacturing management (future controlling)
- system, based on a system of reports and analytics, to help you manage business activities;
- improving control of working time and staff movements.
The effects of the changes I introduced in the company were as follows: a reduction of the financial and business risk level and an introduction of an effective control and risk management system in the company.
Taking into account the level of business awareness of the company’s employees, I did not use any technical terms, such as business know-how, controlling, planning, or budgeting. In spite of this, I am pleased to recall that I managed to build systems that facilitated managing the company.
I helped to create business management, control and risk management systems. The system provided current information on expenditures for activities, production orders, indirect functions (transport, workshops, administration and general activities) and about the human recourses and working time. The indicator analysis provided the necessary information to offer the company’s services and to obtain information on the viability of each project.
At the management level, a system of key business indicators was established. It provided valuable information, serving, among others, to effectively manage the company in a competitive market.
EXAMPLE 2 Audit Engagement. Conducting an Internal Audit, Diagnosis, Improvement Plan /
Customer Recovery Program
The manager of a small gastronomy company that employed several dozens of employees had been on sick leave for more than six months. He had recently resigned from his job and relinquished his shares and asked to be dismissed from his duties. Some insights suggested that the manger’s
resignation was not due to health reasons. His successor refused to accept responsibility for the consequences of his predecessor’s activities which could be described as “mismanagement”. The accounts of the company did not have to be audited and were kept by an external accounting
office. The former manager held a controlling shareholding in this company.
I was asked for help by the shareholder who was taking over the shares. In the first step, using my know-how, I intended to:
- evaluate the company’s current asset status, assess the company’s liquidity, and assess its ability to continue its business activities.
- evaluate the company’s performance in relation to legal provisions and the achievement of business objectives.
- evaluate the processes of management, purchasing, warehousing, sales, finance and HR and payroll.
- evaluate the level of process and resource control and business risk.
The result of my assessment was very pessimistic. The financial situation of the company did not allow for a timely settlement of liabilities. The value of overdue liabilities was twice as high as the value of assets, which confirmed the lack of the company’s ability to continue its activities.
I left it to the company to choose one of two options: to increase the shareholders capital by additional payments on capital account or by loan or to file a bankruptcy claim. My actions brought to light the manager’s numerous fraudulent activities that incurred losses for the owners and the employees of the company. What is more, I saved the new manager of the company from shouldering legal responsibility for somebody else’s wrongdoings. Unfortunately, the question came up once again: Why someone asked to use the know how of the independent auditor business advisor so late?
If I had been in the company earlier, probably, together with the people who wanted to succeed, we would have prevented this misfortune. Disaster prevention brings much better results than helping a company that is already going under.
EXAMPLE 3 Business Consulting Project: Building an Internal Regulatory System for Registering and Controlling Customer Activity
Every year during an audit of the entity’s financial statements the auditor pointed out that the internal regulations regarding the accounting and control of the company’s operations were inadequate and out of date. The company was operating within the framework of a large Polish capital group, and its main business was to provide warehousing and shipping services for oil and fuel lubricants. The problem was getting worse, as it was increasingly difficult to manage the company’s business and the risk of this business was growing at that time.
One reason for the difficulties to compound was the fact that the company, along with its development, was introducing new solutions, new IT tools, in part as the holding’s standards, and in part on its own initiative. As a result, there were several different IT systems covering accounting, stock, staffing, wages, and fixed assets and low-cost fixed assets. The systems communicated with each other sometimes better, sometimes worse, and they were also linked with manual recording. These solutions were also documented in various ways and the quality of user instructions was not up to standard.
I was invited by the auditor of the company to work on updating the Internal Regulatory System, from the comprehensive documentation of the Document’s Rotation and Control Instruction and its detailed description in a series of Instructions and Manuals for a number of business areas, such as the Chas desk Instruction, the Company Cars Regulation, or the Stocktaking Regulation. The work comprised adjusting the existing fragmentary and historical regulations to the current state of practical activities, legal regulations and standards of the holding.
The updated regulations included the descriptions of the processes within their scope and the documents involved as well as users’ activities, including control and authorization. Of course, they also included the IT programs, to the extent that they were used to handle business processes. The process flow and the circulation of documents were presented graphically in the form of readable block diagrams.
Although the work was done in close co-operation with the employees of the company and was consulted with them on a regular basis, when I presented the complete final draft of the most comprehensive regulation — the Document Circulation Regulation showing all the areas assembled
in one document, they accountants reacted in a surprising way. They admitted to me that the document might be too complex for some employees and therefore difficult to apply. The Stocktaking Inventory Instructions brought a similar reaction.
A quick simplification in terms of issues and terminology was welcomed by the users. The regulations were put into effect In a poorer version, yet easier to use. The lesson I learned from this experience is that often in a company with stable, experienced staff with less ability to change, one has to find a compromise between quality and usability at a given organizational level. We need to give employees time to "grow to change". Currently I am still involved with the company on an ad-hoc basis, asked by to make some rapid changes in regulations, which proves that progress in this area is being made.
EXAMPLE 4 Consultancy Project. Business development capital investment
A company trading in sports equipment in the wholesale channel was interested in establishing closer cooperation with one of its clients listed on the WSE which had a well-developed countrywide retail chain of stores. The company originally intended to buy 25% of the client’s shares. The capital contribution was meant to provide financial support to the client so that this company could partially redeem itself. The investment was to amount to several tens of millions of zlotys. The initial information was that the company had difficulty in settling its liabilities.
The company was likely to lose liquidity, although it still seemed to have creditworthiness, but its credibility with banks was lowering which resulted in a lower level of available credit and an increase in its cost. By acquiring a significant stake in the client’s firm, the company wanted to have a greater impact on its customers business through management involvement, as a significant shareholder (a strategic and an operational objective), by maintaining sales to the company and significantly enhancing its growth in the longer term. The company wanted to gain profit from its financial investment in the form of dividends on shares when the company regained profitability. Before making these strategic investment decisions, the company wanted to receive a confirmation that the investment would be profitable.
The purpose of my work within this consulting project was to support the company in the process of making a decision concerning the realization of investment plans. In the first step, I verified the information of the financial reports and business reports provided to the company by the client —
the reports were a source of information about the company, its financial and asset status as well as about its business plans. On the basis of the information received I assessed the current financial condition of the company and the possibility of its improvement and the development of the acquired company.
I also assessed the risk of liquidity loss and, as a result, I confirmed the loss of liquidity. Nevertheless, I ruled out the suspicion that that was a permanent loss of financial liquidity, although such a risk existed and was very serious in view of the prolonged financial condition of the company. At the same time I also assessed the business continuity risk and concluded that such a risk would bot materialize in the short term. I also assessed the risk of a further decline in the company’s share value as well as the business risks of the company.
I also carried out an evaluation of the book value of the company, its debt, liquidity, the ability to pay liabilities, the valuation of the company by the stock market and the accounting valuation. I also verified the company’s valuation by means of the replacement method. The last part of my work was to assess several development scenarios (from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic), including some measures to improve the company’s sales, optimize costs, improve the margins and profitability and, of course, its financial liquidity which also included a plan of a debt relief process foreseen for the next few years. I also performed a verification and conducted by my own SWOT analysis.
The results of the assessment of the company’s business risk allowed me to draw up a positive report concerning the fundamentals of the company’s business model. The financial analysis excludes the threat for the continuation of business and ruled out a permanent loss of liquidity. In my opinion, the plans and analysis presented by the company were too optimistic and overly simplistic. However after cleaning up these materials from the marketing content, highlighting the fact that the financial condition of the company was not good in the first place, I was able to evaluate — with moderate optimism — the company’s development and improvement plans by recommending this financial investment.
EXAMPLE 5 Financial Audit. Review of the past financial statements and adjustments
A company was created to buy a plot of land, prepare it for a construction of an office building, and then to sell it to an interested investor. It was planned that the deal would be completed within a few months. The company was to be liquidated after the objective had been achieved. However, some growing misunderstandings and conflicts between the shareholders made it impossible for the transaction to be executed in a normal way. The sale of the land was finalized only after four years, while the financial settlement of this deal between the shareholders was not completed, what with the conflict between those persons: the most controversial aspects of the conflict were taken to court. As a result, the financial statements for the subsequent years did not receive the approval of the shareholders. Also, the company was serviced by several external accounting offices whose work was of questionable quality. This additionally complicated the situation of the company. As on the one hand the conflict between the shareholders could not be solved in amicable way, and, on the other hand, there was a lack of business continuity, the management board of the company decided to file for bankruptcy.
The management of the company engaged me before the bankruptcy of the company was announced to conduct an audit of the financial statements for subsequent years and to make proper adjustments in the financial statements in order to make them correct and consistent with the law. The purpose of my work was to review the company’s accounting and reporting from the beginning of its operations till the end of the last period prior to my audit. Due to the nature of the order, the project was a limited review consisting of the identification of accounting records which consisted of accounting evidence, analytical accounts of sales purchases and other synthetic accounts of turnover and balances of the general ledger for subsequent annual periods.
In view of the fact that the company was not subject to mandatory auditing, my project was not an easy one. I noticed certain shortcomings and errors and, as result, I made some suggestions for adjustments of accounting and, above all, changes in the financial statements. The purpose of these activities was to clear the accounts from certain complex transactions not always correctly recognized in the financial statements, that is in the balance sheet and profit and loss account for a given year. Since the accounting service was run by various external companies, in different systems and at different levels of accuracy and regularity over eight years, due to the difficulties of reaching the accounting records, I proposed adjustments at the level of financial statements.
The simplified review allowed me not perform an expert’s opinion, a requirement regulated by the law on accounting and the audit of financial statements. In this context, I drew up a report and submitted to the company a list of corrections to their reports, making it possible for the company to prepare the financial reports in a correct form and present them in such a way to the competent authorities for the purpose of the company’s liquidation