SMBs get control of their numbers.

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I was privileged to be a speaker at Victoria University Logistics and Supply Chain Conference in Melbourne on Aug 25th 2009.

Matthews Steer Chartered Accountants and  leading business advisory firm, were the gold sponsors of the event entitled “Logistics Insights – Strategic Information for Strategic Decisions 

Having been a transport man for many years, I was happy to engage with many transport & logistics providers and others present. Participants were mainly from the Small to Medium Business (SMB) community. The session, was entitled Financial Management for Logistics and Supply Chains Post the Global Financial Crisis. In the backdrop of the economic climate it was a discussion around solutions to issues that come up when the question is asked, “Have you got a handle on your numbers?”

 The session aim, was also to reinforce the need for timely performance information and show SMB leaders options for affordable solutions that address the once technically constraining reporting issues that limit growth and survival. Emerging trends show  demands for a higher level CFO services in SMB’s. This in turn is seeing a drive for web tenanted applications to deliver to SMB sectors more cost effective Performance Management tools

In my examples I showed the value having up to date performance management integrity. Ability to react quickly to changing business conditions is now vital and is also painfully obvious when banks who fund SMB’s and large downstream procuring supply chain customers, insist on up to date financials to qualify risk issues.

Ben Clear BackgroundDuring the session Ben Calleja and Paul Wight, senior consultants at Matthew Steer Chartered Accountants joined me. Each in turn supplemented with practical demonstrations on ways to manage the financial management issues crucial for small business.

Ben presented a KPI based X-Ray review and a methodology imagethat showed how to make significant improvement to profit and cash flow with just a few simple performance changes.

Paul then outlined some key aspects of what is needed to set  up and maintain banker confidence, including some practical advice on merits of debt financing .

Big end solution providers such as Oracle, SAS, SAP, IBM, INFOR and some smaller niche players are all very active in the high end Performance Management scene. The recent intense consolidation of the software Industry and economic downturn  has also upped the stakes on visible performance control generally. This sees providers all racing to get a foothold in the huge but widely disparate SMB market which is now more much alert to the need.

image With cloud computing now very affordable and available, sorting out SMB level, distribution models, choices of architectures and pricing are priorities providers are moving on as they create SMB offerings.

This is good news for SMB’s who for so long have struggled to get high value advice on financial and business performance. Conversely, advisers are no longer hamstrung on real time effectiveness caused by re-processing client’s information. The increased ability to deliver or even learn how to give top value has been spawned by the shared view access made possible by performance management software . The much needed higher quality CFO service on demand is now also being delivered without previously intense partner involvement and costly information collation.

This nexus is also  becoming quite clear also  to some  other domains. System providers are watching with interest as are broad based professional advisors. Both see  that soon that will be able to educate and sell with ease and low cost homogenized and custom reporting formats.

Online CFO based decision management support for SMB client community is the new reality. Matthews Steer my hosts, endorse and reinforce this with their SMB clients with a mantra to see them improve their reporting. Many have pedigree records and have prospered under this approach already.

As I ended the session I was asked why I had started with he question about having a handle on numbers and not with,

“If you could have up-to-date, always accessible, collaborative business performance reporting and control without the pain of setting up and maintaining an IT project, would that make a difference to your business?”

The answer is easy of course ,

Keeping all the balls in the air is about having a handle on your numbers and so everyone knows where you are going.

With a performance management process that is possible.

Without it  a business can never grow and prosper beyond one person’s ability to lead and control it.

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If you would like a copy of the presentation slides they are available on the VU website or contact Matthews Steer, Chartered Accountants, Alternatively register your name and email here and I will be happy to send you a copy together with any supplementary white papers. _______________________________________________________

You can contact Gordon Wood at Sherwood Group Consulting or Matthews Steer, Chartered Accountantsimage

Gordon Wood is CEO at Sherwood Group Consulting operating in Asia Pacific. With its affiliated business advisors (including Matthews Steer in Melbourne) they provide business performance value for their MNI & SMB organization customers.

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