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Few businesses prepare properly for transition says Star Business Solutions

PLANNING for the transition of a business – be it sale or succession – is an emotional and complex process, in particular for privately-owned and family businesses.

According to Star Business Solutions marketing director Norman Hall, one of the most neglected areas of preparation is the “upgrade and optimisation of business software systems”.

“It is often neglected as many consider this just as a business cost, whereas it should actually be considered a business enhancement,” Mr Hall said. “Poor systems can have a major impact on the ease of sale of a business or the smooth transition from one management to another. 

“At the very least poor systems can affect the day-to-day running of the business, profitability and staffing levels.”

 

INVESTMENT-READY SYSTEMS

Mr Hall said from successful business transitions he had observed, one of the keys to success was in having ‘investment-ready systems’.

“Any transition begins with making the business ready at all times to be sold for the best possible price,” Mr Hall said. “That is not to say that it needs to be sold – but ready just in case: there is a knock on the door; the owner gets sick; the family deem an intergenerational transition is timely; or family circumstances change.

“It is hard to get ‘investment ready’ at a moment’s notice.”

Mr Hall said the key to becoming transition-ready is building proper reporting.

“Understanding what is happening within the business, combined with exception analysis, helps underpin the evolution of the business to becoming more efficient and ‘investment ready’,” he said.

“Prospective owners need a quick, clear overview of what the business is, what makes it tick and how it performs to pre-determined criteria.”

OWNER-PROOFING THE BUSINESS

Mr Hall said business owners wanting to transition must move from working ‘in’ the business to working ‘on’ the business. Integrating business software systems are a key element of being able to achieve that.

“Part of building business value is being able to structure reporting systems that enable the owner to keep a timely eye on things from a distance,” Mr Hall said.

“By building intelligence into the KPIs (key performance indicators) that are produced on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, it is possible to observe business and human behaviour, even remotely.

“Without this, owners might not be fully aware of the important things happening within the business. Early attention may avoid disaster.”

HANDING OVER THE REINS

Owner-proofing a business is part of the process that makes handing over the reins of the business easier, according to Mr Hall.

“Let’s face it, it can be very difficult to let go, even with the best career advice and learnings. This is particularly the case where ownership has not yet transitioned,” Mr Hall said.

“There are key balance sheet items that the owner usually knows back to front. They know their ratios, the leading indicators and warning signs of impending trouble.

“These can become part of business intelligence reporting designed to initially aid the business day-to-day and then to enhance the potential success for new ownership or management.

“Business software has come a long way from the old accounting software days.”

Mr Hall said improved business systems should be the first port of call in building business capability and resilience – and doing so was an integral part of successful business transitions he had observed.

www.star.cd

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Centec takes security to next level for better business

THE growing sophistication of business security systems has driven the transformation of Victorian company Centec Security Group to both meet current demand and better equip companies for the future.

Centec Security Group managing director Peter Hinton said integrated security systems played a vital role in areas as diverse as energy efficiency and employee safety for progressive modern businesses.

“Many times I have been asked ‘are you the alarm guy?’ In years long gone by the answer to this would have been yes,” Mr Hinton said. 

“Although we still use the three systems we have traditionally used (alarm, access control and CCTV) these days with continual development and integration into third party devices we find ourselves being more of a technology company rather than just an electronic security company,” he said.

One of the biggest changes has been the development of closed circuit television (CCTV) to not only protect premises from external threats, but also as a way of enhancing a business’s workplace health and safety systems.

“Now we all know the primary purpose of CCTV is to capture and record images, but for business owners there are now added benefits to these systems,” Mr Hinton said. 

“Occupational health and safety (OH&S) has become a major part of business practice over the last decade. CCTV systems can help business owners not only manage their staff, but have footage should an incident occur, limiting their liability.

“Cameras are now helping many sectors of society,” Mr Hinton said. “CCTV images are helping police in their investigations and councils are implementing street schemes using wireless mesh networks to help keep our streets safe.”

Another fascinating use of CCTV is in tracking and managing customer flows and behaviour, obtaining data about customer buying patterns which has never been available before.

“Retail stores are using people counting to see how many people come into their store and heat mapping to see where they spend their time while in store,” Mr Hinton said. “All of this helps the marketing departments in terms of store set up and product placement.

“Thermal cameras are being used for anything from wide area perimeter protection, fire detection, plant management, employee management to horse care in stables.”

Although the primary function of business security systems remains, there are increasing variations on how access and alarm technologies can be applied to benefit businesses in other ways – even to help save money.

“These systems are now integrated and can be used as a very powerful platform to manage and secure business premises,” Mr Hinton said. “Utility costs keep going up and up.

“If your alarm system is on, that means there is nobody in your building. So why would you leave your lighting, air conditioning and non-essential power on or leave it up to your employees to switch them off?

“With third party integration we can simply turn off all these system when the alarm is turned on. In the event of an alarm we can switch on lighting to further deter intruders.”

Mr Hinton said access control could also be used to track employees and restrict their movements.

“And we can also download this information into payroll systems,” Mr Hinton said.

“Science fiction movies used to show finger print and retinal scanners opening doors … and people would sit there and imagine the day that these would become science fact. That day is today.

“As you can see technology is quickly advancing and helping business owners manage theirs.”

www.centec.com.au

 

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Shellshear sets Australian start-ups straight on Lean approach

START-UP businesses looking to follow the ‘Lean Start-up’ approach currently favoured by Silicon Valley should pause and think it through carefully, advises Australian start-up specialist Evan Shellshear.

In Dr Shellshear’s experience, the Lean Start-up imperative may be more of a hindrance than a help to many Australian early-stage businesses. In fact, he has identified three specific situations in which the Lean Start-up approach works against a fledgling business. 

“We’ve all heard about the Lean Start-up and how it’s transformed Silicon Valley and the start-up world,” Dr Shellshear said. He is the CEO of Simultek, where he works with start-up businesses in all phases.

“However, as you would expect, it turns out the Lean Start-up process is not a perfect fit for everyone.

“The Lean Start-up approach to product and service development is all about discovering what your business assumptions are and testing the assumptions with experiments,” Dr Shellshear said.

“You create a hypothesis, run a test and then use the result of that test to improve your product or service and then keep iterating using the learnings to improve.”

Dr Shellshear’s research has identified three cases in which the lean methodology should not be used: when people’s lives depend on your product; when other people rely on your product to build theirs; and, as he put it, “when there are simply no hypotheses to test”. He is an Australian innovation thought leader and has recently published a best-selling book on Amazon: Innovation Tools.

“The problem with the Lean Start-up is like all new management trends: it gets hyped to the point of hyperbole and people try it in the wrong situations and become disillusioned,” Dr Shellshear said.

“Choosing the right service and product development model is unfortunately something you only get one shot at, so you’ll want to make sure the first iteration is correct …

“Before blindly using a lean methodology, ask yourself first, is lean right for you?” 

 

WHEN TO AVOID LEAN START-UP METHODOLOGY

When people’s lives depend on your product. “You don’t want to bring a product out on the market to test a hypothesis if people can be fatally injured due testing it,” Dr Shellshear said.

When other people rely on your product to build theirs. “Constantly iterating on a product which people rely on will mean that they will stop relying on it.”

When there are simply no hypotheses to test. “If you know the market conditions, the demand for your service and/or are simply providing a commodity, then get it out there and don’t waste time,” Dr Shellshear urged.

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Innovation at core of Royal Freemasons aged care services

SET TO CELEBRATE its 150th anniversary in 2017, aged care services provider Royal Freemasons remains one of the most innovative and progressive organisations in Australia.

For more than a century, Royal Freemasons has innovated its facilities and services, collaborating with a range of industry partners and universities, to achieve its single mission, what it calls a “simple and principled aim” – to ensure its customers “live a secure, dignified and rewarding life”.

Royal Freemasons operates nine aged care and retirement homes of its own across Victoria and is collaborating with others on aged care services, including Masonic Care Tasmania.

Royal Freemasons chief executive Felix Pintado  said the organisation worked in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute to develop new ways to continue meeting customers’ needs and aspirations as they transition through aged care.

Working with Deakin University, Royal Freemasons has in recent years improved staff skills base in mental health care and has also worked with La Trobe University on a project to up-skill staff in emotional intelligence (EI). This is all designed to contribute to a better customer experience.

Royal Freemasons has partnered with Alzheimer’s Victoria to stage the first ever conference looking at ‘intimacy as we age’.

Now expert staff members are involved in the State Government’s Medicine Senior Reference Group and we are involved in an international skills exchange program with SIM University Singapore.

So renowned has Royal Freemasons become in the way it innovates and develops more sensitive and efficient aged care, the organisation regularly receive visitors from overseas – most recently from  Japan, Malaysia, China and Singapore. – who are keen to learn about the facilities designed and built in recent times and, as importantly, how they are operated. 

A good example of the standing with which Royal Freemasons is regarded was the extraordinary recent visit by Tokyo Institute of Technology fellow and professor Takanori Shibata. He has invented a remarkable robot – in the appearance of a seal – which is getting great results in assisting people with dementia.

Prof. Shibata visited Royal Freemasons’ Copin Centre to personally reinforce how technology can play an important role in delivering a better quality of life for people in aged care. His robotic Paro seal was specifically developed as a therapeutic device to assist people managing dementia and has been successfully used worldwide to provide calming and caring of aged persons. The seal has been acclaimed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best device ever developed for this work, helping dementia residents who have known behaviours such as agitation, wandering and aggression and who are resistive to standard intervention practices.

As a result of the visit, and through benefactors Aya and Keith Thornton, an initial eight Therapeutic Robot Seals have been purchased for Royal Freemasons our aged care customers who are managing dementia.

The robot reacts to the attention given by a person as if it was a child and has been shown to have very excellent therapeutic effects on the wellbeing of the individual. The initial rollout of the Paro seals has commenced and it will be continually monitored in order to evaluate and instigate further rollouts to other customers, to help improve their quality of life.

“I am proud to oversee a very special organisation caring for nearly 1600 older Australians,” Mr Pintado said. “To meet demand, we are growing our services and recently added 215 aged care beds and 40 independent living units to our mix. \

“We want to offer people the very best of care and exceed their expectations. To ensure this, we have carefully aligned our services to meet the Federal Government’s Living Longer Living Better Legislation.

“In recent times, we have built on a long-standing tradition of excellence by introducing a range of new, high quality and caring options. We are constantly endeavouring to exceed our customers’ exacting standards and am confident that we have exceeded them at our new developments Streeton Park in Heidelberg and Coppin Suites at Coppin Centre.”

www.royalfreemasons.org.au

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