Monday, 28 July 2014

Next Generation Leadership

Leadership is evolving with the next generation. The way things were done in the past, from pyramid corporate structures to top-down budgeting have slowly fallen away as new generations come along with their own views on how things should be and where the generation before has gone wrong. This is nothing new – it is a cycle that happens over and over in life as every generation strives to improve on what has come before.

The generations who will come to leadership over the next decade have none of the fear of technology that the retiring leadership of today and yesterday may have had. They have always had unlimited access to information and they believe one hundred percent in the power of technology. They have a need to do more and be more than any generation before them, a job alone is not enough – they believe in leading a balanced life that brings them personal satisfaction and growth.

This will reflect in the way in which they lead as well. They will want to empower their employees, providing them with more responsibility and more accountability in order for them to feel more fulfilled in their duties. They will want their employees to be well trained and have access to whatever information they need in order to make decisions and lead by example. This is their way, it is what they know and they believe in and they will want to share it with the world.

They want things now, not tomorrow and certainly not next week, and they will demand instant access to all the information from their organisation wherever they are. To maintain the work-life balance they strive for, telecommuting and working from home will be common-place and they will still need to be able to get at any and all information they need.

Real-time, user-friendly, easily understandable, accessible from anywhere information will be the only way they operate, as they will want all levels of their business to be able to access, comprehend and input on the information at hand. They will want to be able to collaborate at any time of the day or night from anywhere they happen to be; if they want the opinion of their manager in Singapore they will not want to have to travel to get it.

Luckily, technology seems to be staying just ahead of demand and financial management software today can provide many of these things already. The next generation of software will need to keep evolving in anticipation of the leadership needs of the future, but the forward-thinking business owner will already be investing today in the technologies that will make that progression organic and natural when the time comes.

*As published in Accountancy South Africa magazine in March 2014

Monday, 14 July 2014

Risk Management - Using the weapons in your armoury

Risk Management can feel like going to war; there are threats on the horizon and it could take substantial investments of time, resources and effort to achieve victory. Some of the threats your business will face are bad debts, theft or fraud, loss or theft of data and natural disasters. The good news is your business already has all the weapons and resources in its armoury that you will need to manage most of these risks, so the cost may not be as overwhelming as you might think.

Your first line of defence will be your financial software. The systems of today have built in tools, from alerts and red flags that tell you something outside of your preset parameters is occurring to providing user-friendly real-time access to your information.

Alerts and red flags can provide early warning that one of your customers are struggling with payments, allowing you to get in touch with them before they get relegated to the bad debts pile. If you get a notification when one of your branches is burning through their budget way ahead of schedule, you can immediately follow up and head off any potential fraud or theft before you experience any real loss.

This of course ties back to real-time access – what good is the air raid siren a month or even a year after the shells have been dropped? If you can only review your books at year end, the losses will have already occurred and you may never identify who was responsible or when it happened.

To the layman, traditional systems seemingly communicated in complex code that could only be broken by accountants, an expensive resource that appeared to spend all their time pawing through figures no-one else could understand. Systems today can provide simplified information that can be understood by non-financial users, meaning there are more people available to recognise when something is out of place.

An unexpected ally has also joined your ranks in the form of your cloud services. Cloud providers employ security specialists to keep your data safe; they update your software through automatic updates; and the data centres they use provide redundancies ensuring your ability to recover from any disaster – natural or otherwise. The physical security at the data centre is also likely to be far superior to anything the average business can afford, adding an additional layer of protection for your data and additional peace of mind for you and your customers.


Defending your business against risk can seem an intimidating and costly venture. Sometimes the difference between raising the white flag and racing to victory can be as simple as taking a closer look at the resources you already have in play.

*As published in Accountancy South Africa magazine in February 2014