More Americans than ever before are starting up a business of their own, making a real difference to the state of the nation at a local and a national level. However all too often, even with the best intentions and the best work ethic, insurmountable challenges can be faced. One option which offers the freedom of running your own business, with the support of a network, is a business service franchise.There are a great many reasons as to why this is such a great option for entrepreneurs in the country. As economic strength returns to the US and greater confidence is found by organizations in the country, they will require professional services. Operating in a local area, a franchised company can often provide a more bespoke service and faster turnaround.One such business sector that is well positioned to help local economies pick up is in digital printing. With local companies starting to require all manner of stationery and other printed materials, entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to stake a claim in the sector.A successful local print shop can quickly become an integral part of the local business community, but it is essential that the service provided is of a high standard. It is for this reason that setting up a franchised store makes such great sense.Providing printing as a business service, a franchise has the immediate and constant support of a recognized brand. This allows other companies in the area to immediately trust the product and the experience they receive. With a reputable franchisor, the training should allow for knowledge to be acquired and put into practice quickly and effectively.Moreover, working with a strong nationally recognized franchisor allows a valuable support network to be drawn upon. This network can extend across the state, the country and even across the globe. It all means that experience can be shared and mistakes collectively learned from and mitigated. Put simply, it makes for a stronger business model than regular start-ups.This greater strength by working to a proven business model also ensures that getting initial and ongoing finance is easier. Banks and other lenders will always favor those new businesses that they feel have an enhanced chance of success, and a business service franchise offers this. With a high success rate throughout America, securing lending at preferential rates is a very real possibility.Despite all the benefits though, the success of such a printing business still relies on one thing above all else, and that is the determination of the individual. Great training and advice, the latest equipment and materials and the very best information can only take you so far. Effort and a strong ethic are what actually carry the business from day to day.If the right attitude is forthcoming, it is possible to provide the very best service whether designing and printing posters and banners, setting out and printing catalogs and brochures or creating business cards. With so many advertising and marketing needs, as well as daily operational materials, a print shop business service franchise really could be a success story for anyone wanting to take control of their own life and career.
Running a small business can be very rewarding. In most cases, the small business owner starts with a dream and turns that dream into a reality with sweat, tears, money and lots of late nights. While making money by doing something that you are passionate about can be a dream come true, most do not dream of doing taxes and managing payroll. As business increases, handling these tasks can become even more overwhelming than the stages of planning to start the business. Outsourcing some of those mundane responsibilities will allow the owner to focus on the main area of expertise, giving attention to customers which will ultimately grow the business. Let’s face it, a plumber is an expert in plumbing. However, a plumber needs to use a computer to keep track of all business dealings. When the computer crashes, should the plumber try to fix it himself? Or let an expert repair it? A community planner running a non-profit would probably want to focus on writing grants instead of dealing with payroll.There are companies that offer these kinds of services to small businesses. The services can be as simple as an Information Technology (IT) service that will help the business owner with computer and telecommunications issues or as complex as running all aspects of the business including payroll, human resources, benefits, and legal concerns. The purpose of these business services are to allow smaller entities to run as smoothly as Fortune 500 companies without having to spend a fortune. America was built on the premise of entrepreneurship. With an expert handling the hiring and firing, payroll, benefits, tax code, legal issues and things of the nature, smaller businesses are more likely to stay open for business and continue the entrepreneurial spirit of what makes America so awesome.To determine the scope of the small business services needed, ask a few questions. Is your business stationary or mobile? Is travel out of state or country necessary? Are there multiple employees? Does the business provide healthcare benefits for the employees? Is the mode of communication with customers efficient? Answering these questions and questions like these can help determine the needs of the business.Whether it is allowing an expert to handle aspects of the business that you are not that great or delegating tedious responsibilities to capable hands that the time can be dedicated to other projects, small business services can be very beneficial. No matter how big or small the task at hand is, delegating those tasks to a reliable and credible entity can only improve how business is done and increase productivity. Increasing productivity means increasing profits.
Welcome to my third article in a series focused on insights, experience and practical advice on an operating model called Global Business Services (GBS). The GBS operating model is the latest step in the evolution of shared services (SS). To refresh your memory, SS is an operational model that’s been around for decades. It enables functional resources (i.e., HR, IT, Finance, etc.) to be leveraged across an entire organization, resulting in lower service costs. My first article discussed the evolution from traditional SS to GBS, the drivers for the change and the desired benefits. Article two highlighted that even though the transition to GBS continues, there seems to be a return on investment (ROI) shortfall with a number of implementations. The primary reasons for the ROI shortfall and some solutions to enhance success were also covered. This third article takes a “deep dive” on two key elements to ensure a successful GBS implementation: strategy and governance. Let’s get started.When you talk to experts who guide companies through GBS transformations (and I have had the pleasure of working with many of them, such as Deloitte, Accenture, The Hackett Group, and others), or talk with GBS leaders who are viewed as having world-class GBS operations, similar critical success factors (CSFs) are consistently mentioned. Some of these CSFs mentioned include:1. Executive Leadership – getting the entire C-Suite aligned and onboard.2. Technology Enablement – making the appropriate investments in people, process and technology to ensure success.3. Delivering on Commitments – meeting cost savings targets and aligning your deliverables/measures with your clients’ expectations.4. Critical Mass – transitioning enough process scope and execution authority that is impactful to P&L.There are several other CSFs that could be added to the above list. However, there are two items that are foundational and provide the direction to the above items… strategy and governance. A famous proverb says, “Without vision people perish.” Translating this to a business context, “Without a strategy, your initiative will ultimately fail.”Importance of StrategyStrategy is critical for every corporation and especially for every major transformation. For GBS, lack of strategy alignment at the C-Suite is largely viewed as the #1 reason for failure. The GBS operation may not fail immediately, but if the strategy gaps are not addressed over time, it will lose its influence and relevance, and will ultimately fail and be restructured. So what are the elements of a good GBS strategy? There are several, but here are the main ones:1. Primary Purpose – define primary focus, such as cost reduction, scalability/growth, regulatory compliance, etc.2. Scope of Coverage – define processes that will be transitioned into GBS at the start, and will be candidates for the future.3. Service Delivery Methodology – define approach of how services will be delivered to clients. Internal (or captive) vs. outsourced centers; global vs. regional centers, etc.4. Governance – initial organizational structure, operational roles and responsibilities across the enterprise, and executive leadership roles to provides GBS direction.5. Execution Plan – transition methodology discussing sequencing of businesses and geographies on a timeline.There is a significant amount of work that goes into developing an effective GBS strategy, and it clearly requires enterprise-wide inputs and alignment. In a McKinsey Quarterly survey, it stated that companies are typically investing an average of six (6) months in transformation planning, and sometimes are still not able to set clear goals. McKinsey’s recommendation (and mine) is to take the additional time needed to ensure a clear and aligned strategy which improves the likelihood of a successful transformation.Importance of GovernanceGovernance, in many respects is part of the strategy. Just like strategy, if there is no enterprise governance in place, GBS is doomed for failure. So, what does effective governance look like? The major elements include:1. Executive Board – serves roles of both advocate and critic with clear accountability for performance management, ongoing strategy adjustments, and capital approval authority.2. Clear Accountability – clear roles and responsibilities definition between Executive Board (EB), GBS leadership, outsourcing partners, business clients on decision rights, service level changes, delegation of authority, etc.3. Voice of Customer – incorporation of regular mechanisms via client councils and other venues to clearly solicit inputs/requests/changes from business leaders.4. Strategic Alignment – ensures ongoing review and alignment of the organizational direction across the C-Suite.In many companies, the term governance is viewed as “slow-moving” or “beauracratic.” For GBS, it has to be the opposite – being agile, dynamic and continuing to evolve as the company changes. Governance must flex as business client expectations rise, technology platforms evolves and most importantly, as executive leaders and their expectations change. This is absolutely critical!ConclusionThe growth of GBS continues and is forecasted to be robust through the end of the decade. However, expectations for even greater results and ROI will continue, as companies keep pushing for higher levels of automation, lower service costs, and higher profit margins while improving the customer experience. To accomplish all those things, one needs to utilize some of the items covered in these three articles. The key takeaways include:- Executive Commitment.- Robust planning effort with focus on strategy and governance.- Anticipate the ROI Shortfalls and Implement the critical success factors.- Continually “raise the bar”, as business clients push greater results and improved customer experience.Thank you for your interest and attention. I look forward to your feedback and comments.
Internet Business Services are thriving. Every day there are more and more consumers logging on and now cost-effective to carry on business services via the internet.To operate an Internet Business Service you will need less operating costs as you no longer require a brick and mortar store and you can now have specific niche businesses or items that would have failed if they had been in a traditional business setting. Best of all, Internet Business Services will allow you the freedom to be able to work from anywhere – the office, on the road, at home…anywhere!That being said, not all Small Business Internet Services prosper. You can still sink a lot of money into your business and have it flop. There is homework involved for the Internet entrepreneur as you have to research the business you are considering as there is so much competition out there that it may be infeasible to try to go head to head with a company or in an industry you have no chance in turning a profit it.Use concrete data to contribute as the basis of your Internet Business Services. Likely the main factor over all to be considered is the demand for the Internet Business Service you want to create.Here is a scenario: You are considering an Internet Service Business to sell contact lenses in the Philippines. What is the average gross margin on sale? What are the price points to be considered? Is there enough volume in terms of population demographics to support the need? If you can not get enough traffic there is no need to be in that business.Be very wary of your competition. Who are other Internet and non-Internet Business Service providers that cater to the same need? There could be few competing Internet Businesses in your niche, but if there is not enough traffic to begin with, you are better off to find another nicheHow do you intend on making your money? Will you be acquiring your revenue from online sales, affiliate commission revenue, advertising revenue, email marketing…?After you have done your homework and determined what niche is a fit for you and you are sure of the likelihood of success with your Internet Service Business get to work on your site. Make sure it is unique, interesting and useful. Launch it-and let the sales roll in!But the next question is who is going to build your Internet Service Business website and how are you going to pay for the construction of the site and all that goes along with it? Today there are options for financing your website. You will likely need to put some investment into the site construction and development but if you finance the site, you can make the site much more professional and high-end and then pay for it over time as your sales come in.
Whether the economy is booming or facing a crunch, one factor plays a critical role in business: IT. In today’s business environment, almost all business activities are tied with the IT department. However, most of the departmental heads have no idea of the impact of complex technology on their respective business processes. Many a times, department heads have no means of identifying and preventing bottlenecks within applications so that end users are not affected. In today’s tough economy, Business Service Management can come to the rescue of many IT managers as well as departmental heads to ensure a smooth running of business processes.The importance of knowing end to end performance is not only applicable for large enterprises, but smaller entities too. In fact, monitoring end to end performance of applications is more important for small businesses, considering that they function on a very tight margin. In order to stay on top of any performance issue and to effectively solve it, business owners need application monitoring tools through which they can monitor whether their business services are functioning properly. Such application monitoring would also inform them of any bottlenecks in advance and prevent any large scale impact on end users. Business Service Management enables both the teams to do just that.Business Service Management solutions help bridge the gap between the departmental heads and the IT team. When a BSM solution is put to work, the business department can work in coordination with the IT department to ensure that all the services are available and any potential problems may be solved before they start affecting end users. BSM helps in detection of IT issues, tracing their root problem and solving them quickly.With Business Service Management,o Issues related to business-critical applications can be dealt with proactively
o Departmental heads can start prioritizing tasks according to their importance
o Information can be presented according to the role of the person concerned
o IT Service Management is easier to put into practiceBusinesses hence need to consider Business Service Management as a necessary component in order to know the end to end performance of all their critical applications. However, businesses are sometimes forced to choose between two extreme BSM solutions: one which is inexpensive but lacks functionality, and another, which is expensive and needs a lot of manpower to support it.An ideal Business Service Management would be one which is integrated, affordable and easy to use. A business should not have to make a compromise in quality due to the cost of the BSM solution. An ideal solution would allow end to end performance monitoring as well as management Service Level Agreement. It would also not require any manpower to manage it.Until sometime ago, only larger APM vendors used to offer BSM solutions; even then, these solutions were expensive and complicated. But now, with the popularity of Business Service Management, other vendors have started offering affordable and easy to use solutions which can be applied in small businesses as well.The increased dependency on IT for business critical functions has made Business Service Management as well as IT Service Management a must for any business. Both IT managers and departmental heads can work together to ensure that business services are available to end users without a problem.
With so many people having lost their jobs in recent months, home businesses in the service industry has become a rapidly growing trend. As regular 9 to 5 positions are becoming harder to find, having a home business service is increasing in popularity. It is becoming more and more attractive as the start up cost and overhead is very low when compared to a brick and mortar service business.If you have been thinking about using your talent to start a home business service, and you feel that you are ready to commit to providing a home business service, then read these tips to help you get started.in the right direction.First I would like to clarify what a home business service actually is.A home business service is performing a service or task that will help other people with tasks they either don’t want to perform or are unable to perform on their own. A service business supplies the solution to a need and can include anything from walking a dog to figuring out a clients taxes. Virtual assistants have become a very popular service that is provided from home.I’m not going to cover the benefits of having a home business as it is already common knowledge, I am sure that you already know what your reasons are for wanting to work from home and why.Getting Started:1. Set Up a Home OfficeGetting a home office set up for your home business service is one of the first things that needs to be done. Getting a business phone is an important part of selling a service as you will need to be able to communicate with clients. If this is out of the question because of your budget, at the moment, get a business line added to your home phone as soon as you can.You will need a separate office space from the rest of the house, especially if you are planning to have clients come to your home.2. You Will Need a WebsiteYou not only need a computer, which I assume you already have since you are reading this article, but you will also need a website. A website will be the gateway for your business in your local area. It is imperative to develop an online presence for your business. The Yellow Pages are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and the cost of running an ad in the Yellow Pages is often beyond many entrepreneurs financial means while in the start up process.Having a website is much more effective than the Yellow Pages as you can get it up and listed in days, while you have to wait for the next publication of the Yellow Pages to be printed. Also, more and more people are going online to find local services and businesses than are looking in the Yellow Pages. Finding a listing on the web is faster and more current that the phone book.3. Research Your County LawsYou will need to know the legalities for registering your home business service and for any zoning restrictions that may be applicable for a home business in your neighborhood.. Every county in every state has different laws and ordinances. The county clerk may be able to help you with this information or will at least be able to direct you to the right place to get it.4. Get a Business LicenseYou can usually pick one up at either the county court house or the county clerk’s office.. The license won’t cost you anything, but once your business is started it will be subjected to a different tax structure.I am not a tax attorney and cannot offer any advice on the tax exemptions for your state or with the Federal government. What I can tell you, is that you will be allowed more exemptions that you are getting now for using your home for your business. You can get more information online at http://www.irs.org.5. Set Up a Business Plan and Set GoalsHaving a home business service can develop into a very lucrative business. Be sure to have a definite business plan strategy worked out that is measurable and that you can use as a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly guide. Remember to set goals that can be achieved. Set your beginning goals in small time frame increments. Cross them off your list when you have achieved them and then add bigger goals to strive for.6. Advertise Offline and OnlineGet some business cards made to hand out to everyone in your neighborhood that you come in contact with. You never know when the service you are providing will be needed in the community. You can get business cards free online at Vista Print.com. You only pay the shipping which is about $6.00Print fliers with details of the service you are providing and remember to Include your website URL and your home phone number. Pay a high school kid in the neighborhood to pass them out for you.Put fliers and business cards up on bulletin boards at grocery stores, liquor stores, apartment buildings, laundromats, the post office, and any other place you can think of that will allow advertising.Offer a free gift with your home business service. Vista Print often has promotions for free advertising venues such as tote bags, post cards, refrigerator magnets, etc.Place small ads in local newspaper and free press newspapers. Place ads on web sites such as Craig’s List, eBay, and USFreeAds. Be sure to list your home business service with Google Local Directory so that you will be placed on their Goggle business map for your area.Use viral marketing, email marketing and article marketing online to get people to your website. Submit a press release about your new business both off line and online. There are several free sites you can submit to. Do a Google search to find them. Until you begin receiving clients, spend all of your scheduled work time marketing your home business service both online and offline.Once you start receiving clients it can be very difficult to manage your work time, your marketing time and your family time. Plan accordingly. Schedule business tasks that need to be done daily between time spent with clients. Set a limit as to when the work day will end in order to spend time with the family. I hope these few tips will give you a place to start in getting your home business service off the ground and running.
The concept of corporate Shared Services (SS) has been around a long time, with the private sector credited with starting this concept in the late 1980’s, and the public sector about a decade later. Personally, and not trying to date myself, I came across this business model at a former employer around 2005. Simply put, SS is an operating model that enables function-specific resources (i.e., HR, IT, Finance, etc.) to be leveraged across an entire organization, resulting in lower costs with agreed-upon customer-service levels. It’s utilization by both the private and public sector grew consistently over time, and then came the 2008/2009 recession. At that time, companies desired even greater efficiency, wider geographic reach, and broader scope coverage from its SS, to handle greater regulatory scrutiny for the same or even lower costs! These demands caused a bit of an inflection point, and the next stage in SS maturity started taking hold… Global Business Services (GBS). So, what is GBS?DefinitionGBS is an operating model defined slightly differently depending on which company or consultant you speak with, but they will all agree on the need for these five elements:1) Multi-Functional – spans multiple functions, businesses, and locations across a common service delivery framework.2) Operational Efficiency – offers greater cost savings, efficiency and compliance as compared to traditional SS.3) End-to-End View – enables an end-to-end process view (i.e., Order-to-Cash) while driving significant end-to-end process improvements.4) Service Delivery Excellence – focuses more on service delivery excellence, agility, scalability and innovation.5) Client-Focused and Aligned – seeks to support business outcomes and delivers innovative capabilities to help businesses outperform competitors.This sounds impressive, but the model clearly takes a bit of work to implement, with overall strategy and governance needing to be addressed and agreed to by all stakeholders up-front. If strategy and governance are not agreed to upfront, the transformation may move forward and even continue for some time, but will be at risk of falling short of achieving objectives or even be an outright failure.Impressive adoption… but has the value been fully achieved yet?Nonetheless, as a business model GBS is here to stay. The Hackett Group has been reporting for more than 10 years the percentage of SS that have moved to a GBS model. Since 2014, GBS organizations have outnumbered single-function SS organizations by a factor of three. In addition, in Deloitte’s 2015 Global Shared Services survey, approximately 60% of the 1,000 SS reporting were multi-function in nature, containing two or more functions. Even though the GBS adoption has continued to grow, not all the implementations have delivered the expected business value and outcomes. As a matter of fact, few companies (less than 10-15%) have reached the “holy grail” of GBS performance yet, except for companies like P&G and Unilever, who have been at it for well over a decade. So, as your company transitions from SS to GBS, are you delivering the expected value and outcomes to your business clients, and if not, where is your company on that journey?If you are not sure, stay tuned for my next article on “Taking Your GBS to the Next Level.”
Looking back, the emergence of business service management (BSM) seems inevitable. This new generation of tools helps IT organizations manage technology infrastructures within the context of the key services they provide for their customers. BSM tools are critical enablers for the increasingly popular process-focused IT Service Management (ITSM) approach.What’s driving this evolution to BSM and its related IT management paradigms? Executive Consultant Troy DuMoulin of Pink Elephant, an ITIL events and consulting firm, explains, “The interest in ITIL, the evolution of legislation like SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002), and the interest in standards is symptomatic of something much more rudimentary. At the base of this growing focus on formalization and legislation is a growing awareness of exposure and dependency that the business has on IT. Before, IT was seen as an enabler, supportive but yet somehow separated from the business processes themselves. But now there is a realization that there is no true separation between the business process and the underlying IT services and systems.”Information technology has become so vital to business today – so ubiquitous in every aspect – that most businesses literally cannot function without it anymore. Even simple manual tasks like filling a car with gas or cashing a check now require the support of an IT system.This heightened reliance on IT has placed companies at a crossroads. They are compelled to address this new dependency by putting processes and technology in place to ensure IT does its job serving the business effectively. So the move to BSM can be seen as a natural reaction to the new way IT interacts with and enables business.”BSM is a way for a company to agree on what the business expectations are, and manage the IT performance to those agreed upon expectations,” clarifies Brian Childers, a consultant who also serves on the Board of Directors for itSMF USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting best practices in IT services management. “Once we understand the expectations, we can build the processes to suit the expectations, and manage against them.”Vendors are responding rapidly to these new service management imperatives. Leading software providers – like HP, BMC, Mercury and Managed Objects – are already introducing new BSM-versions of their popular tools to help revolutionize the way IT managers gauge technology performance and leverage that knowledge to meet business needs. And new kinds of automated, self-learning software from companies like Netuitive, are making it easier than ever for managers to cut across their technology silos and tie together their existing management tools.”Over the years – especially during the frenetic IT build-out of the late 1990s – companies cobbled together a mishmash of systems within their IT organizations,” adds Tony Gilbert, vice president at Netuitive. “The result now is a heterogeneous set of components in the IT environment, and individual departmental silos for managing each one. The right set of BSM tools makes it possible to tie together all of these pieces of technology across an enterprise and to monitor IT from the perspective of the service it delivers.”BSM tools help IT groups see technology in terms of how it impacts their business services, and zero-in on the cause of a particular performance issue that is affecting that service — a capability companies do not have when they manage IT solely through technology silos. The new BSM tools can also enable a company to prioritize resources based on the relative importance of multiple business services. For example, a brokerage firm could manage online trading or online banking services holistically instead of piecemeal within silos: the server group, the database group, the application group.More Than Just TechnologyBut completely changing a management approach is not easy. “For the last 20 years our industry has been focused on managing technology. Management of IT has been by domains, such as mainframes, networks and databases. But those domains don’t truly live in isolation.” Pink Elephant’s DuMoulin continues, “A basic premise is that there is a business requirement for IT to understand how any given IT component relates to another and how these devices support or potentially disable a business process. When you understand IT from this perspective you see that you cannot manage by technology or device. You need to understand the relationship between those devices, and how they relate to IT services, and ultimately how IT services are consumed by business.”The people factor remains an issue, too. For many organizations, BSM often requires a corporate culture change. IT personnel must learn that they don’t just manage boxes and applications, but actually provide services that the business consumes in order to survive and thrive. Most experts agree that the tools are out there, and are necessary, but they go hand in hand with changing processes and changing the way companies perceive the value of IT.”Some people believe that it doesn’t matter what technology you use as long as you have the right processes in place,” comments Ken Wendle, the ITSM Solution Lead at HP. “But I have always said that IT service management is a combination of people and process, enabled by the right technology, all working in synergy with each other. It is about the intelligent blending of technology to enable and enforce the right processes, which then will allow an organization to execute around business priorities.””I have seen companies that put the right processes in place, and trained the right people, but then created process silos,” HP’s Wendle also notes. “But ITSM is about cutting across the technology silos, not just creating another set of process silos on top of them. ITSM is about taking a holistic approach.”The BSM Evolution ContinuesWhere is BSM going from here? “One of the missing ingredients today is the enrollment of the business community,” itSMF’s Childers believes. “They need to understand what BSM is and why they would want to support it. I think the better job everyone does with bringing the business side onboard, the faster BSM will progress.””I don’t think companies have gained all the benefits of technology that they could,” HP’s Wendle agrees. “The business people need to understand and appreciate what IT can do to help the business side of the organization.”Clearly there is work to be done, but the adoption of ITSM and the BSM tools that support it continues to gain momentum as more companies realize this is a prerequisite for success in a new world where business and IT have become one.”The prediction is that over the next five years, ITSM will be as impactful as ERP systems were, or maybe more,” itSMF’s Childers concludes. “I don’t think ITSM is going away, because it makes too much sense.” And innovative BSM vendors will continue to develop new tools to help.