Posts Tagged ‘finance’

Q&a: christian kaufmann, unilever

Q&A: Christian Kaufmann, Unilever

A few years ago, Unilever Europe embarked on one of the largest outsourcing deals in European business history, as part of the transformative One Unilever programme. Following his presentation at the 7th Annual Finance & Accounting Transformation & Shared Services conference in London, we spoke with Christian Kaufmann, MD Finance Business Services, about the impact this transformation has had on his organisation – and his tips for maximising the benefits of outsourcing.

SSON: Christian, Unilever’s been on a prolonged and significant transformation process over the last few years. Can you tell us a little about this?

Christian Kaufmann: We have been on an incredible journey since around 2005, when we internally announced the One Unilever programme aimed at streamlining our business to be more competitive. And one of the key elements of this has been to implement financial shared services with an outsourcing provider. We are now at the stage where we can say “let’s get the benefits out of that” – where we have now harmonised processes to a great extent across Europe.

SSON: That outsourcing deal is one of the biggest in Europe’s history, isn’t it?

CK: It is, I believe – so I’m always told! It affects various processes in Finance to a great extent – purchase-to-pay, travel expenses, record-to-report, bill-to-cash – and it affects around 800 people.

SSON: And you’ve said that this has resulted in great efficiency gains – can you tell us exactly what you’ve gained from this transformation?

CK: To put it simply: alongside the implementation of a single-instance ERP system, which happened at the same time, we have now managed to get new harmonised tools in place which we have worked with our service provider. We believe we now have access to the best technology which we wouldn’t, quite frankly, have had access to before. So that’s one element. The second element is simply that you get a better approach in service delivery; you can beef up the qualities of your delivery on a more harmonised level, whereas it was quite frankly of very varying quality before. And then obviously we’ve moved to a lower cost-base.

SSON: To give readers some idea of the scale of the transformation, how many regional offices have been absorbed into the One Unilever programme?

CK: Within the One Unilever programme itself… it has been around 25 countries, and within each country we had at least three units, so let’s say 80 units. We had three different divisions of business; each of them was quite proud to have its own ERP system, and – guess what – more or less each country managed to have its own customised version, so at the end we believe we had 18 different ERP systems. And we managed to have so many variants of the processes that they numbered in the hundreds.

So we had a very, very diverse situation which we confronted at the beginning of 2005. And that has now actually changed dramatically, because now we have only, let’s say, one process for each of those I mentioned earlier – like purchase-to-pay, the way we do general ledger, reporting, how we do travel and expenses, fixed assets, and also bill-to-cash. I think for a fast-moving consumer company such as ours that’s a great achievement and we’re very proud of it.

SSON: You recently presented at the 7th Annual Finance & Accounting Transformation & Shared Services event in London, and as part of your presentation you were speaking on the importance of clear and robust governance, and of good communication with an outsource provider. Let’s look at the governance issue first: why is that so important?

CK: I believe governance is important because, as I always say, it has to work on good and bad days. So when you talk to your provider you have to have as robust a relationship as possible which will take you through the ups and downs – especially the downs, obviously! Because there will be issues, and you have to manage those issues, as you have to manage them internally as well on a day-to-day basis. Operational issues are hitting you left, right and centre at some point; at other times it’s more quiet.

We had – at the time when we decided on our outsourcing provider, IBM – decided to go for a cooperative style. We spent some time, deliberately, on what type of relationship we wanted to build, and we said that, well, we didn’t want to have a shared P&L at the end of the day, but we wanted to get very close in the way that we would jointly solve issues, and that we would jointly take ownership of issues even if they would hit one party harder than the other one. So I think we learnt from other regions where we had also outsourced, within our own organisation, and from listening to a lot of other companies as well, that this is quite fundamental. So we have moved away – I think successfully – from normal customer-client behaviour towards a partnership.

SSON: You said “keep regular meetings going even during the good times when it might seem there’s nothing to meet about”; how important are those meetings, and keeping the relationship going even when things are going well?

CK: I think it’s really crucial. There’s always a tendency – especially now in times of economic crisis – to see everything else as more important than your basic processes; but if you can’t find the five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour, whatever it takes, to link up with your service provider – who’s actually managing quite big parts of your processes – and just ask “how’s it going?”, if you’re not careful, issues will creep up and they will not be resolved, because people will see them as not being urgent enough and so on.

You have to work continuously on the issues as well as on the partnership; I believe you can have lovely PowerPoint slides telling you all about governance but at the end of the day it comes back to the people who have to deal with things, and they need to talk to each other. I strongly believe you can’t substitute this through email or other means; you HAVE to talk to each other. And you have to do it at the lowest possible level; you can’t always do it at the top level because you have to get the teams who actually have to do the job talking to each other.

SSON: You mentioned the financial crisis there, so let’s finish on that topic. Obviously times are getting tougher for companies around the world; often companies that don’t have Unilever’s scale and resources are struggling particularly. What quick wins might you recommend for practitioners going into troubled times without much light at the end of the tunnel?

CK: There’s no simple recipe as such and I can’t speak for other businesses; but I think people need to look at their processes and find out where the leakages are. Some of them may have inefficient processes and the cost of the transaction may be simply too high, so they have to think how they can resolve that. There are options there. They don’t necessarily have to go through an outsourcing provider, as we have chosen; you may find a different solution in-house. It depends really on the type of business, on the culture, and on the current set-up of the infrastructure.

More Articles: Want to receive more articles like this? Have a tip, learning or case study you want to share?
Join our growing community of shared services and outsourcing professionals.

Sign up to our eNewsletters and ensure you receive the latest news, articles and features from our growing global community… Find out more at or email

Most common mistakes by business plan writers:


The significance of business planning is widely accepted. Mostly, business plans are created for definite purpose. There are number of blunders made by inexperienced business plan writers; mistakes that are easy to avoid.

Following are the most common mistakes by business plan writers:

  • Patience: Don’t rush! It takes a long time to write a good business plan because most of your time is spent in researching market competitors, finances, customer’s needs and desires, product and setting prices for your product/services. Be patient! Otherwise, you’ll make a mess of it.
  • Idea inflation: To start a business you need capital, intelligence, time, and determination; not just a great idea. New thoughts are harder to sell; people don’t appreciate new ideas easily. Successful businesses are completely based on new ideas.
  • Unbelievable financial projection: Financial projections are one of the basic areas of business plan readers. Forecasting is not easy. Business plan writers must be very careful in realistic financial projection.
  • Try to satisfy everyone: Basic target of business plan writer is to satisfy its consumers’ as well as its investors’ needs. Try to manage target market.
  • Cash flow negligence: The movement of cash into and out of a business is known as cash flow. It is more important than anything else in the business for investors as well as for owners. We always think of business to generate a profit, which is, sales minus costs.. Cash flow is very critical for any business and we need to understand its importance. Cash flow table must be included in your business plan.

·         Lack of possible opportunities: A business plan has to describe all the possible opportunities of earning profit, prospective customer, target customers and product/services. Mostly writers do not mention all the possible opportunities that will lose their readers.

·         Forget to address the risks: Risks are the most essential part of a business. Every business contains risk. Higher the risk, higher will be the return. It is important to mention the amount of expected risk when writing a business plan.

Above mistakes are easy to avoid. Writing business plan needs time and effort. Business plan writer should be very careful when writing a business plan.

Process of list building via ppc

Process of List Building Via PPC !

Pay-per-click is something you should know about. Pay-per-click i’snt something you absolutely have to know about immediately, but it’s definitely something you should learn. But how do list building and PPC work together?

Starting your list building strategy with co-reg and JV deals are really the quickest, best, and least expensive ways that take the least amount of brain power for automatic list building. Youre really looking to build your list to several thousand as quickly as you can.

These two techniques will help you to do that. You can go and pick up Perry Marshalls book at For more details go to It will teach you everything you need to know about how to get your first pay-per-click campaign started. He’s the expert and I wouldn’t deviate much from what he tells you.

But I can tell you how to build a list through pay-per-click.

I don’t care what kind of site you have, the front page of that site, where your domain sits, you need to drive traffic to a list building squeeze page. You need some kind of image (people are best), some text (bullet points work well), and you need an opt-in box.

Opt-in boxes can be pretty simple. You get the code for this through your autoresponder. Give customers a lead in to the form, like: “Just type your first name and email address below:” works fine, or something similar to that. Or, you could get a bit more creative: “Fill in this form to receive your free copy of” You can do this any way you want. And, you can generally complete this step right in the autoresponder program.

The next thing is the opt-in box. If you want a bigger list, if you want your list building to be more powerful, ask only for people’s first names and their email addresses. You don’t need to collect the other information, until they buy something from you, right?

You can collect that other information from list members through your payment processor when they become buyers. People don’t mind giving more information when it comes to finances, usually. Payment processors, like banks, are often what people consider to be “trusted” sources.

But back to the opt-in box It’s also best to put name first, then email. I know that at AWeber, the form comes out the other way around, unless you change the sequence, so be sure to do that.

Then, and this is a very important part, whether it seems like a big deal or not. Change the wording on the bar that usually says, “Submit.” For more details go to That won’t get anyone to click. But, if you change the wording to read something like: “Free Instant Access,” just like on MyFirstList, that converts better. Use anything you like.

Then use some bullet points–about five, where you can sell the benefits of the site, which are your list building draws. You notice I wrote “benefits,” not features. Why should people want to learn more about your product? Get your newsletter? Read your ebook? What’s in it for them? Why should they give you their information and sign up for your list? If you tell them why they need to join your list in bullet points, great. If not, use a paragraph, but don’t put much more than that on a page. Keep it short and simple.

Be sure to make your sales page the thank you page in your autoresponder so that people go from list building page to sales page directly.

When your list building squeeze page is built, you add it to your web host, then you go to Google, Overture, Kanoodle, or another PPC site, and place your ad. I’ll let Perry Marshall do the talking. It’s a very smart investment, if you’re serious about online business. But use your campaign to advertise your list building page and drive traffic to it. It’s a very efficient list building strategy.

Nine reasons to use a divorce mediator

Nine Reasons to Use a Divorce Mediator

1 – Come to An Agreement, Rather Than a Decision

Both parts of the couple are in charge of everything in the file agreement. No judge determines who gets what based on the quality of legal counsel or of their arguments, you do.

2 – The Agreement is Easy To Understand

The law is complex, but knowing what you want isn’t. A trained mediator can not only put all of the finances and terms of ownership and custody into terms that are clear and easy to understand, but they can also develop the documentation, in front of both parties, instead of complex legal documents that only the attorneys understand.

3 – Binding Agreement

Whether the agreement is completed through only mediation, or a combination of mediation and arbitration, the agreement is binding requiring no need to go to court, and yet creating a legal document that can be used as a guide for the settlement of property and custody, and in the event that one side reneges, the other party has a legal document with which to enforce their rights.

4 – Reduced Cost

A couple can share the cost of a mediator and although many mediators are also attorneys, they rarely cost as much or take as long. Also, no court costs are involved to process results or create contracts that determine who gets what.

5 – Less Stress

Mediation involves talking about issues, discussing needs and wants and coming to an agreement. Knowing from the start that all parties will be fair and considerate, and that the mediator will be neutral and encourage multiple methods for coming to an agreement, reduces the stress of a court trial and the predatory nature of all or nothing legal bouts.

6 – Arbitration

Sometimes mediation doesn’t solve every little issue. Some details can’t be ironed out, but after working through 80-90% of the contract, a mediator can be called on to make a fair decision on the remaining portion, making a judgment that will stand in lieu of going to court, but allows for fairness and an equitable split.

7 – Confidentiality

Divorce mediation is private, confidential process. There is no fear that anything said in mediation can be used against the parties because those parties are bound by law to keep what is said in mediation private. The parties cannot use any of the information divulged in mediation in court (if the conflict goes that far) and the mediator is bound by confidentiality so as not to be called in court, and may not divulge any of the minutes from a mediation meeting in print or verbally anywhere. This means that participants are free to speak their mind without fear of “tipping their hand” and having their words used against them later.

8 – You Can Still Go To Court, If You Want

Don’t come to a decision, or is one party unwilling to participate? You can still go to court, and having discussed issues, you may also have a better idea of all of your finances, assets and issues that require consideration, issues you may not have even thought of. Also, since mediation is confidential, you aren’t tied to your arguments in mediation, so that you and your attorney can pursue a different strategy altogether, and you cannot be called out for your comments or revelations in the mediator’s office. Anything brought up in court that was brought up in mediation is inadmissible in court.

9 – You Will Find That Future Conflicts Are Resolved More Easily

Little disputes always come up, and you will find that after mediation, it’s much easier to come together to solve the little problems that arise. Knowing qualified mediators and understanding the value of negotiating, rather than going to court, will also give you the experience and knowledge to settle other disputes outside of your marriage.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Consider all of your options – attorneys, courts, arbitration and mediation or some combination, and speak to a professional before beginning the divorce process.

For more information about Divorce Mediation in Arizona.

Online business bookkeeping: should you outsource

Online Business Bookkeeping: Should You Outsource?

As a business owner or as an entrepreneur, you will need to document all your income and expenses for tax purposes. Also, it will serve as a good way to track your finances and make sure that you are not losing money. If you are business owner, you may want to outsource book keeping for your online business.


There are quite a lot of reasons why you should outsource book keeping services. The first reason is that you will be able to decrease your work load. Instead of doing it yourself, you can have someone do it for you through outsourcing.

Another great advantage in outsourcing book keeping jobs for your online business is that it is much more cost effective than having your own book keeper in the office. This means that you will be able to save more money for your business or minimize your overhead cost.

Basically, book keeping involves handling every financial aspect of your business. Everything will be recorded here. From business revenues, to profits and losses incurred by your business, as well as other expenses, everything will be recorded. You have to consider that at the time of tax session, you may get over loaded with work as book keeping work can be quite time consuming. You will literally have a lot more work to do and may not have enough time to manage your business.

And, because of the work load of book keeping, you have to remember that a mistake in this kind of records can incur serious penalties, especially if you are late in submitting it.

Today, you will see different online book keeping websites that offers book keeping services for a fee. You have to consider that outsourcing book keeping will not only save you a lot of time and money, but it will also increase the efficiency of your business and the way you run it.

However, before you get the services of a book keeper and outsource it to a book keeping service company, you have to remember that you need to make sure that the book keeping company you plan on outsourcing your books to should only provide you with the highest quality of book keeping jobs. You should make sure that their staff is well trained professionals who are experienced in book keeping.

Outsourcing your book keeping jobs is definitely the best way to save you money as well as get your books done in time. It will help you run your business much smoother, and because of the low the price of each book keeping job, you can be sure that it will be much cheaper to outsource it than having an in house book keeper.

Outsourcing jobs can help you cut down a huge amount on your expenses. You will see that you will save a lot more money in a year through outsourcing book keeping jobs, rather than have your very own book keeper working for you full time.

Also, by outsourcing, you can be sure that you will never have to do the book keeping work yourself. By doing so, you will be able to attend to more important things in your business, which means that you will maximize efficiency and profit of your business.

So, if you want to save money and run your business more efficiently, you might want to try outsourcing book keeping for your online business.

Recent Posts