Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

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.

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Manage your time to earn more in less time

Manage your Time to Earn More in Less Time

People talk about the 80/20 rule quite a bit.

20% of your customers produce 80% of your profits.

80% of your problems come from 20% of the customers.

20% of your activities produce 80% of your results.

Let’s talk about this in regard to how you’re spending your time. Since 80% of your activities only produce 20% of your results, and the other 20% of your activities are producing 80% of your results…wouldn’t you be better off concentrating only the 20%?

Let’s say someone works 12 hour days. It’s almost unbelievable to me that people work that much, but I’ve spoken with MANY who do so. Sure I could understand and have done a 12 hour day right before a vacation or on the last day of finishing a project. But working that long every single day? That’s the surefire recipe for a breakdown, both physically and mentally.

Applying the 80/20 rule to their 12 hour days means the 80% is 9.6 hours and the 20% is 2.4 hours. If we cut out the 80% that isn’t producing very well for them, we would only have 2.4 hour days. Now there’s a schedule I like.

Something I often suggest to my coaching clients is to make an activity log for the next week. Every day, simply list all the activities for the day and how long it took you to do them. At the end of the week rate each of those activities by how well it is building your business.

You’re going to find you’re wasting way too long on certain activities.

You may find like many of my clients these activities include:

– Reading too many blogs (Limit the number you subscribe to)

– Subscribing to Internet marketing newsletters that only sell without providing good quality content.

– Answering Email All Day (no more than twice per day and shoot for once per day or less)

– Surfing the Forums (I can’t think of a bigger waste of time if you’re not there for the purpose of generating traffic by participating)

– Calling Someone Without a Specific Plan in mind (you can waste an hour with no results – keep it short and planned)

All of the above are activities people do to make them FEEL like they’re working instead of doing any real work. They also consume your day.

What are you personally doing that is wasting your time?

What do you do to replace the real work of your business?

Usually these are activities that consume much of your day…and don’t show any real results at the end. They are part of the 80% producing only 20% of the results.

Next ask yourself which activities really bring in the cash.

For example, for me, these cash producers include:

#1 – Writing (used for the blog, new products, and article submissions)

#2 – Copywriting (sales copy for my sites, tests, and emails)

#3 – Product Development (recording videos and doing interviews to create products)

#4 – Business Development (creating systems for others to do the work – could also be listed as the real #1 cash producer but I love the writing part the best)

Where do I waste my time?

I asked myself this question lately and had to answer I had slacked on following my own email rule (answering no more than twice per day max which I do for the coaching clients). So I’m pushing myself strictly back to this.

I’ve also allowed myself to check the comments on my blog too often. So for the time being I’m turning off blog comments. For me they are part of the 80% that’s not really producing the results.

Be honest with yourself…and figure out where you waste your time. What parts of your business are the 20% producing 80% of the results? Which parts are the 80% only producing 20% of the results? What can you eliminate or outsource immediately?

Quench your thirst with an addition of nutritional value

Quench Your Thirst With An Addition Of Nutritional Value!

You must be getting baked this summer and wanting some thing nice to drink to refresh yourself and to stimulate. All those teetotalers can try out different variety of beverages and quench your thirst this summer.
Water melon fruits are good for summer. They are low in calories and will add no fat too. It is considered very healthy when the body needs excess water. Watermelons, being rich in potassium, help keep salt from raising blood pressure and might diminish the risk of kidney stones also.
Ginger and lime mixed together will also make a good drink. Ginger is good for digestion. The recipe, which combines fresh chunks of kiwi, minced ginger, simple syrup, lime juice, and ginger ale, is nonalcoholic. Kiwi fruit also has anti oxidant which is good for your body.

Orange has plenty of Vitamin C which is good for your skin. Phyto nutrients have stronger and deeper impact on the body. Protect your body cells and improve your health.

Green apple: They have the power to reduce obesity and minimise chronic disease. It consists of antioxidants which are good for many immune system-boosting. They also help in the absorption of vitamins and minerals found in the food. They are low in calorie, carbohydrate and low in fat too. Fuji apple controls blood clotting and fulfils your multivitamin requirements.

Grapes and green apple are good for your hair as they have anti oxidants in them. Vitamins, antioxidants, phyto-nutrients and minerals combine to produce a truly healthy food!
Fruits should add fibre to your stomach with out increasing the blood sugar level. They add to the water level which is required highly in summer as your body gets dehydrated. Some diseases such as cancer can be treated with phyto nutrients.

Discover the true nutrients found in fruits and avoid alcoholic beverages to some extent. When fructose enters the body, it goes straight to the liver to be processed into fat and cholesterol – this is why fructose is something you want to avoid if weight loss is your goal.
Avoid mangoes if you are suffering from diabetes! Blueberries are a delicious treat and low in sugar! These antioxidants, including vitamin C and in some species resveratrol, help prevent all kinds of illnesses. The most recognized are:
Macular Degeneration and Blindness
Brain damage due to strokes
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Urinary tract infections
Add nutritional value to your drink this summer!

Making your business card mean business

Making Your Business Card Mean Business

Let’s say, you are at a function and you are meeting a great many new people. How can you advertise your new business? Hand out your business card, what else! A business card can be an entrepreneur’s best friend and a valuable marketing tool. The problem is that too many people have business cards that simply blend into the multitude.

How can you make your business card stand out from the pack and grab the receiver’s attention? We’ve come up with 9 design elements to make your business card a unique marketing tool. Here goes.

o Develop a one-line slogan – When someone looks at your business card, can they immediately tell what your business does? Create a one-line slogan that will help people remember what you sell. Include the slogan on your business card. Typically 6 words are enough to get the message across – if they are the right words.

o Include your contact details – Tell readers how to contact you by phone, fax, and mail. Most importantly, include your website address because if your business is interesting that is the first place a prospective client will visit. It is surprising how many business cards miss this vital information.

o Make your card readable – Does your business card have a font size so small that you need to hand out a magnifying glass along with it? If recipients can’t read the contact information, you’ve already lost them. Use font sizes that are big enough to be easily readable. Always use a light background with dark text.

o Use good card-stock paper for printing – Do you want to be perceived as a professional company meaning business? Then, do not skimp on money when it comes to your business card. Have it professionally printed on good heavyweight business card stock. A poor quality card shows your business in a poor light.

o Use color judiciously – A bit of color never hurt anyone! Same is the case with your business card. Spice it up with a little splash of color and you’d be surprised what a difference it makes. Among all the colors, red is the one that will stand out. Use a light background. A word of caution! – do not use more than 2 colors for text and avoid grey text on a white background.

o Use both sides – Why leave one side of the card blank? You can put it to great many uses. Print a recipe on the back if you are in the food business, a mortgage loan interest table if you are a real estate agent, or even, just a calendar.

o Shape your card – Why stick with the same boring rectangle? Use squares, circles, ovals and triangles to make your card stand out. If the shape can be associated with your business, all the better to grab attention.

o Teach a new language – If your business is global, why not add multiple languages for your business name or print the phonetic spelling of a difficult to pronounce name.

o Add your picture – Yes, you heard me right! This will not only make your card stand out, but also help the recipient connect your face with your business.

Above all, always carry your cards with you. What good is it having a box full of business cards if they’re just sitting there collecting dust? Who knows, you might just meet a prospective client in a chance meeting today!

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