Acformation – The New Information Paradigm

The First Paradigm – Age of Information (circa 1980 – 2000)

Information, coming in, captured the then market realities. It represented the collective market notions such as ideas, beliefs, etc. for a given time period. The Information Gradient (IG), the rate at the which a given information changed – proven, disprove etc. was fairly linear. In other words, the market behaviour was within the predictable limits of Organizational Think-tanks (OT).

The Second Paradigm – The Rise and Fall of Real Time Information (circa 2000 – 2012)

The changing market dynamics brought new problems to these OT. The IG lost its linearity. It became a victim to unforeseen market forces, and thus became more skewed. The Information captured did not convincingly represent the market notions.

It was then time for the next paradigm shift – the Real Time Information (RIT). But, RIT never represented information at all. It was a screenshot of the market notions at any point of time. It allowed the OT to ‘trust’ the market forces before taking any strategic decision.

It worked well for a while. Until RIT started losing the ‘realness’ of the information. As the real-time capturing of information peaked, companies started becoming more aspirational. They wanted information created a moment ago. While the technological advancements made it possible to capture and deliver information real-time, these companies found it difficult to put this information into perspective. For a vital component of the information made no sense – how useful is this piece of information for the immediate decisions to be made and its integrity for long-term strategic decisions.

The era of RIT came to end.

The Third Paradigm – The Age of Acformation (Present)

RIT is dead. How could a piece of information captured a minute ago make sense? More so, when information captured a minute ago will not be the same as the information that is to be captured the next minute. Especially in an industry such as Apparel or Footwear where the fashion trends are changing.

RIT lacks a continuity, in terms of aiding the business in taking market decisions.

Acformation was born. It stands for Actionable Information.

Acformation is radically different. It does not capture or represent information at all.

Acformation, in essence, represents the rate of change of information. In other words, it represents IG. IG is a meta-information, i.e. information about Information. It provides the much need context for the information, and is thus, Actionable.

Understand your company’s Information Structure

As a retailer, you need to understand the Information Structure of your business.

Primary Information (PI)

Stock Levels

What do you have? How much of it do you have?

Sales

What has been sold?

How much of it has been sold?

Secondary (or Meta) Information (SI)

What did this customer buy?

How much did the customer buy?

What is the Customer Profile?

What is the customer buying history?

Miscellaneous Information (MI)

Company Performance

Accounts and Balance.

Actionable Information (AI)

Given the PI, SI & MI levels, how disposed is the customer (or a group of them) to buy in the future?

How likely will the purchase be made?

How frequent will this happen?

Will there any change in their preferences as result?

How resources is your shop in making this happen?

Factoring and Invoice Discounting – What Are the Differences?

Whether you are a new business dependent upon regular cash flow, or anticipate an increase in sales and are eager to take advantage of it, then perhaps you should consider a factoring facility. There are many benefits to factoring and invoice discounting, and they could prove to be the answer to your cash flow problems.

If you are already familiar with factoring then you will have also heard of invoice discounting. The invoice finance market consists of factoring and invoice discounting companies; these can be operated by well-known big banks or independently run specialised companies. Each one sets their own criteria, capabilities and prices which can vary greatly.

Factoring and discounting are both quite similar, but you need to have an understanding of both before you can make a decision about which would suit your business needs the best. Here is a quick explanation and their main advantages.

Invoice Factoring – Factoring is a finance facility that enables you to raise finance based on the value of your outstanding invoices. Instead of sending out invoices and then waiting up to a month or more for the cash to arrive, you can change them into cash almost instantly. Many businesses just starting out have come to the realisation that factoring offers a more flexible source of working capital than overdrafts or loans.

Factoring an invoice basically means that your company is selling the financial rights of the invoice to the factoring company. The transaction is arranged as a sale and the factoring company will pay you the invoice amount in two payments. The first payment is known as the advance and given to your company as soon as you sell the invoice to them; this can be up to 90% of the invoice. The remaining 10% to 20%, the rebate, is received when the client actually settles the invoice.

When applying for a business loan you generally have to wait some time before finding out if the application was successful or not. Factoring is much easier and quicker as the waiting period is much shorter. As the factoring companies generally buy the invoices from the company, their main worry is if the company paying the invoices has good credit, this means that small businesses or those needing to raise cash have a much better chance of getting a factoring line, as long as they work with a strong client list.

There are various fees attached to invoice factoring services, they can be higher than the cost of a business loan and are decided according to the size of the line, the credit quality of the invoices, and how stable the client’s business is.

Invoice discounting – This works in the same way that factoring does, by freeing up cash from your invoices. The difference is that the lender does not offer credit management services to facilitate collecting your outstanding invoices. The service will just release up the invoice value, which can be up to 90%, and you keep control of the credit management. The remaining 10% is then accessible when your customers pay the invoice.

Cash is the livelihood of every company and if you are owed it but don’t not actually have it in your hand then this can cause you a lot of frustration and potential headaches. Invoice discounting lets you keep control of your debtor book as you are in charge of managing the credit, this means that your business is responsible for collecting clients outstanding due payments.

The advantages of using invoice discounting are that it has no affect on the relationship between you and your clients. There is no reason for them to know about the contract, particularly if you operate a confidential invoice discounting facility. This ensures you are able to carry on providing the same credit terms arranged prior with your clients without affecting the company’s cash flow.

Your business retains control of the company’s sales ledger and manages the credit control. By releasing up to 90% of the gross invoice value it provides your business with the answer to cash flow problems. Usually invoice discounting is cheaper than factoring as it doesn’t take up as much time, however, it does have a higher risk potential.

A quality factoring company will provide you cash against your existing debtor book and finance invoices as you raise them. They can also assist by collecting the outstanding payments by way of their credit management service.

What Information Does An Employee Expect? – An Employee Communication Primer

OPENING BELL:

With the corporate laws becoming stricter in India and the ‘Right-To-Information’ Act being enforced in the ‘right’ spirit, coupled with the hyperactive media & proliferation of social networking websites, the word ‘Transparency’ has acquired a new meaning in the world of business. Till early 1990s, the word ‘transparency’ was just not in the business lexicon and today it is a stringent legal, a professional, business and a societal necessity.

Like a coin, the word ‘transparency’ has two sides. One side pertains to the information that the organization shares with the outer world (like government agencies, investors, business magazines, news channels, and voluntary organizations) for compelling reasons and the other side is about the stuff that the organization feeds or notifies to the employees for the intended reasons.

In the contemporary world, the employees are far more conscious and vocal about their rights. In fact, feeding them information is equal to “what the doctor ordered”; give them a little information and they ask for more. Why? Because they believe that the information (like knowledge) is power and more information is decidedly better than no or half information.

Employees born after 1992 (known as Gen x or Gen Alpha) are the blessed ones as they have escaped the era of ‘information starvation’. When they were growing up, India was getting progressively liberalized and information was becoming available more easily. Consequently, they became adult with the ‘mindset’ that they have a (legitimate) right to expect, get and receive information that affects them.

As of now, it seems that the HR profession in India has taken the partial cognizance of this ‘info savvy’ or ‘info hungry’ employees and their expectations for the ‘transparency’ in information sharing (within and from the organization). What information the ‘info hungry’ employees expect from the management or the company?

Let us explore in a telescopic way, i.e. from the personal level and to the organization level, and look at the instructive list of the information needs.

As an employee – Individual & direct information needs:

 

  • How is my compensation calculated and what is my take-home pay?
  • How do I plan for my income tax?
  • What are the HR policies applicable to me and what each policy means? Whom should I give feedback?
  • What are my entitlements and how & when do I receive or claim them?
  • What are the performance measurement criteria applicable to me?
  • How will I grow or get promoted and approximately within what time-frame?
  • Whom should I speak to in case of any difficulty, personal or professional?
  • What are the unwritten but important Dos and Don’ts, behavioral and otherwise, of the organization?
  • Who are the key members of my immediate senior management and what are their profiles?

 

As a team (cross-functional) member – Individual, collective & direct information needs:

 

  • Why I am chosen as a member? Why others are chosen as team members?
  • What are the goals of this team?
  • Why a particular employee has been appointed as the chief?
  • Whom the team will report to?
  • What is the timeline for presenting the outcomes?
  • What resources the team has at its disposal?
  • Will my job be at stake if the team does not deliver as expected?
  • What are the extra privileges available to a team member?
  • How the conflicts within the team will be resolved?
  • How will my performance as a team member be linked to my annual performance appraisal?
  • Who will help if I or the team requires training or other support?
  • What if my Functional Supervisor hinders my participation in the team’s work?

 

As a member of the Function/Department/Unit – Individual, collective & direct information needs:

 

  • How my function/department/unit has fared this year?
  • Why my boss has assessed my performance as inadequate when the function/department/unit has done so well? Does that imply that the ‘sword is likely to be on my neck’?
  • Why our function/department/unit is treated like an orphan by the management?
  • Why I am not being given challenging assignments?
  • What are the key developments in other functions/departments/units of the company?
  • Why employees of other functions/departments/units get better or more benefits?

 

As a member of the organization – Individual & indirect information needs:

 

  • What are the core values of my company?
  • How my company has performed during the specific period and what are the central reasons for the performance?
  • What are the significant developments (political issues, competition related, mergers, acquisitions, takeovers, government policies, etc.) that affect my company (and therefore, me)?
  • Whom should I talk to if I receive unsubstantiated information about my company from the external or internal sources?
  • How my company is planning to grow in coming 2-3 years?

 

CLOSING BELL:

Though the information needs become more specific, differentiated, and time sensitive as one moves up in the pecking order, it cannot be denied that the same information can be shared, of course, on a case-to-case basis, in different ways with different levels of the employees, at the same time or at different points of time. Reaching out to the employees at the right time is always a healthier option irrespective of whether the employees have voiced about their information needs. Information shared at a date later than the required, serves no purpose. All employees do not require all information, but some employees require some information. Correct?

Transparency in sharing of information implies ‘openness’, which is a key constituent of a healthy organizational culture. However, the degree of openness is a subjective criterion and it depends on the workforce’s collective perception, which is primarily influenced by the difference between the management’s advocated philosophy or business policy and the real practice of sharing the information. Transparency in sharing information is a key ingredient for trust-building between the employees & the management.

The real torch-bearer of the ‘transparency’ is the HR Head. She is not only accountable to make sure that every employee receives the ‘required’ information, but also should persuade or even insist when required, that the members of the senior management demonstrate openness and behavioral transparency, consistently.

‘Behavior speaks louder than words’ and here it means that no member of the senior management should be seen as ‘hiding’ or ‘suppressing’ or ‘tweaking’ the information. Practicing ‘transparency’ is an art as well as a science for HR the professionals. It is more an art when they have to be transparent themselves and it is more of a science when they have to make sure that the employees perceive the organization as transparent.

Why Using Invoice Factoring Is a Smart Business Move

Many businesses struggle with having enough money on hand to meet financial obligations. This is the definition of a “Cash Flow” problem. To address this problem, companies generally take one of two approaches:

 

  1. Use other people’s money (OPM), i.e., borrow; or
  2. “Bootstrap” the business by using its own assets and financial resources.

 

Most business owners instinctively look to borrowing as the solution. This article discusses Bootstrapping as a viable alternative.

Other People’s Money

Using OPM involves either equity financing (selling away a piece of the business – and thus part of your autonomy) or debt financing (borrowing). This article focuses on debt financing.

“Debt” is the money owed to another person or institution. If used to address a Cash Flow problem it can be an albatross around the neck of a company. When a business “borrows” money (i.e., takes out a loan), it incurs a debt that must be repaid. The repayment includes both principle (the amount borrowed) and interest (the fee to be paid to the party that lent the money).

Debt puts a constant demand on cash flow. That’s because you are obligated to pay back the loan through monthly installments. Whether your business is having a good month or a not so good month you must direct funds to the lender or face the possibility of default. If you default, the lender has the right to foreclose and take whatever assets are necessary to pay the debt in full.

OPM’s Impact on the Balance Sheet

The act of borrowing forces a double entry on a company’s Balance Sheet. The cash acquired by virtue of the loan becomes a “Cash” Asset on the books. However, an offsetting Liability must also appear because that money is not yours and must be paid back.

This is an important distinction because one of the ratios used in assessing the financial health of a company is the Debt to Equity Ratio. This ratio is calculated by first taking the value of a company’s Assets and subtracting its Liabilities. The remainder is the company’s Equity. The Liability value is then divided by the Equity value to determine the ratio. The higher the ratio number the greater the risk that the company will not be able to meet its loan payment obligations.

This ratio can impact the ability to borrow more money. It can also impact the willingness of vendors to extend payment terms to your business. A highly leveraged company can be a poor credit risk which can cause vendors to demand cash payment for merchandise.

Bootstrapping the Company

Bootstrapping does not have the downside potential of borrowing. When bootstrapping you use the existing resources of the company to leverage growth. This leverage involves understanding all the assets your company has and how to capitalize on them.

For companies with business-to-business (B2B) and/or business-to-government (B2Gvt) transactions one of the best assets to leverage is its Accounts Receivable. Accounts Receivable (A/R) is the volume of money owed to you for product delivered and/or service rendered. It is a debt that another company or government agency owes to you.

Unfortunately, you can’t spend A/R. That money is not in your bank and can’t be used to meet payroll, buy material or pay taxes. You can, however, convert that A/R to cash without pressuring your customers to alter their payment terms. The solution is to factor the invoices. “Invoice Factoring” is the process of selling individual outstanding invoices for cash. It is a transaction that stays exclusively on the Asset side of the ledger in that it converts A/R to Cash. In an invoice factoring transaction you are not borrowing money; you are selling an Asset. Therefore there is no Liability entry on your books.

Under What Circumstances Can Factoring Be Used?

The utilization of Invoice Factoring is a right granted to a business by virtue of Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. A business may “assign” the right to payment to a third party – a factoring company. There are very, very few situations where your right to assignment may not apply. This means that any B2B or B2Gvt enterprise can use Invoice Factoring as a means of resolving a Cash Flow challenge.

Which Financial Institutions Offer Invoice Factoring?

While a few larger banks have departments that do true Invoice Factoring, most do not. One reason is that, in general, the underwriting criteria for Invoice Factoring differ from that of a traditional business loan. But because banks are regulated by the Federal Reserve, those that do have Invoice Factoring Departments will typically apply the same underwriting criteria to both lending and factoring. This means they will look very closely at the personal credit and business credit of those applying for a factoring facility. If those scores are not good, the application will be declined.

Independent financing companies have greater leeway. Their primary consideration is the creditworthiness of your customer – the entity obligated to honor your invoice. If their commercial credit rating is good, the probability of winning a factoring facility is very high. Your company’s credit and/or your personal credit score will have little impact on the decision to fund.

Summary

When confronted with a cash flow problem, the majority of business owners impulsively look to borrow money. This is a viable route, but it important to understand the potential challenges:

 

  • It adds a Liability to your Balance Sheet
  • It affects your credit rating
  • It raises your Debt to Equity Ratio
  • It imposes an additional monthly demand on cash flow
  • It automatically creates the possibility of default and foreclosure

 

Bootstrapping and the use of Invoice Factoring is a reasonable alternative. It offers a quick and effective way for a company to use its existing resources to solve a problem. It is inexpensive, and, by law, universally applicable. Used correctly, it can help a company survive in difficult times and thrive when times are good.

The Union’s Right to Information or How to File a Successful Request For Information

In this article we will answer the following questions and a whole lot more:

• What is a request for information?
• Under what conditions can I request information?
• What can I do if the company refuses to give me the information I requested?

The request for information comes from the obligation and duty to bargain and applies to contract negotiations as well as the grievance procedures that follow.

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.

An employer who refuses to provide information or unreasonably delays the provision of information violates Section 8(a)(5) of the Act.

Information can be requested by a Union who is certified to represent company’s employees for the following reasons:

• To prepare for collective bargaining negotiations
• To monitor the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
• To investigate a grievance

In order for a request to be valid it must somehow relate to one of the above issues.

For example, a Union is preparing for negotiations and requests a copy of all workplace rules and regulations, a list of all positions to include their duties, responsibilities and where their position is located at.

Another example would be if a Union was investigating the discharge of a member. The Union could request a copy of all information used by the employer to decide to terminate the member, including but not limited to, all evidence, statements, emails, photographs, video recordings, audio recordings, photographs and any notes.

Even though a grievance is not necessary to request information it is recommended that the Union has some form of probable cause to justify a request. It does not hurt the Union’s case to be able to articulate the reasons behind their request.

What types of information can the Union request?

It would actually be easier to list all of the information the Union cannot require from the employer. Here are a few examples of information that is not allowed:

• Information covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
• Trade secrets covered as propriety information
• Information which the employer has consistently enforced a policy barring disclosure so long as the employer provides an alternative or substitute form of disclosure

In order for your request to be effective it must contain the following items:

• It must clearly identify the information being requested.
• If the request is in connection to another matter such as a grievance it must be clearly referenced.

The following items are highly recommended:

• Clearly state where the information is to be delivered
• Clearly state how the information is to be delivered
• Clearly state when the information is expected to be delivered
• Clearly state that if any part of the request is denied the employer must state this fact in its response

Now let’s talk about delivery. In order for a request to be effective you must have proof of delivery. This can be accomplished in several ways. They are:

• Via certified mail, return receipt requested.
• By hand delivery, with a statement from the person performing the delivery.
• By fax or by email along with a confirmation copy, a reply or a phone call verifying that it was actually delivered.

What can you do if the company refuses or fails to provide the information requested?

The agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB is an independent agency of the United States government charged with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. As previously mentioned, an employer who refuses to provide information or unreasonably delays the provision of information violates Section 8(a)(5) of the Act.

This next part will depend how your Union is set up. Many organizations require Locals to go through their parent organization in order to file NLRB charges. You should check with your National or International before moving forward.

For those Locals or Independent Unions who are left to fend for themselves you can file the charges in two ways. You can fill out the forms yourself and either walk them into the NLRB or fax them in, or you can call the NLRB and the Information Officer (who normally answers the phone) will take the necessary information from you.

After a few days an Agent will contact you and tell you what you will need to do. Be prepared to provide an affidavit under oath as well as provide all relevant information or witnesses to support your case.

Generally speaking, NLRB charges filed over refusals to provide information are not subject to the NLRB’s policy of deferral.

This means that the NLRB will fully investigate the issue and if the violation is found to be valid, the NLRB can order the employer to provide the information requested.

Tips About Invoice Factoring

One of the most difficult things about being in business is cash flow, but invoice factoring may provide the means necessary to keep the business flowing. After all, you need a certain amount of cash on hand at all times. But what if you have a stack of invoices that just haven’t brought in the cash yet? You can’t afford to wait until those customers decide to pay you. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to charge on-even if you don’t have cash on hand.

This may sound impossible, but there are solutions for businesses that have a cash flow problem. Invoice factoring is one of the easiest ways to keep the cash flowing even though your invoices remain unpaid. Here’s how it works. You receive quick cash based on that stack of invoices. It’s quick and easy. The invoice factoring company simply buys your invoices and gives you an advance payment to tie you over until your customers actually pay. Their payment then goes straight to the invoice factoring company. If it sounds too good to be true, then it helps to understand more about the process.

Here are some tips to help you use this financial vehicle successfully:

• Most invoice factoring is done in two installments. The first one is basically an advance, and it is given to you when you hand over the invoice to the financing company. The second payment, which is also known as the rebate, is given to you after your customer pays the invoice.

• Advance payments can be anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the gross value of the invoices, with 80 percent being about average.

• With this form of creative financing, you get paid immediately rather than having to wait one to three months for your own customer to pay you.

• The cost of using this service depends on three components. The credit level of your customers is one component, and the amount of time it takes for your invoices to get paid is another. The third component is the monthly factored volume.

• Usually you will pay anywhere between 1.5 percent and 5 percent for each transaction you make.

• Businesses that are growing quickly can especially benefit from this form of financing because it enables them to get the cash flow they need quickly to keep up with the rapid pace of orders coming in.

• Invoice factoring is different than a bank loan because most banks will not give you a loan based on the stack of unpaid invoices you have. The focus is instead shifted to how much credit your customers have rather than how much credit your business has.

• It’s helpful to have insurance against fraud and / or requiring your customers to be audited. This will help reduce the risk of using this type of financial solution.

• When choosing a company to handle this part of your financial affairs, choose one that is knowledgeable about the laws regarding it.

The Essence of Information Dissemination in Audit Service in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Information at the heart of everything we do as humans. We generate it, we consume it, we share it and we sell it. The careful managing of information is therefore the key to success in business. An introduction to information dissemination in a business provides a solid overview of the role of information dissemination. It gives guidelines on collecting the right information to the right people to support the firms. ‘ strategic objectives and “oil” the everyday operations of the business.

Definition

Dilman 1978, defined dissemination of information is the active and targeted distribution of information or intervention via determined channels using planned strategies to a specific public or audience.

Dissemination is a formal planned process with the intent of spreading knowledge and enhance the integration of the evidence, information, intervention or combinations of these into routine practice. Information dissemination has been characterized as a necessary and sufficient antecedent of adoption and implementation of organisational policies (Dilman, 1978).

Importance of Information Dissemination in Service Delivery

Before assessing the various approaches used to disseminate information, it is worth revisiting the reasons for disseminating information. There are usually good reasons why organisations decide to disseminate information. These reasons are not necessarily independent of one another but can nonetheless be categorized to emphasis the motivation of an organization when initiating dissemination. The reasons are usually to increase the value of one or more of the following attributes of the enterprise shareholders. The following among others are the reasons for information dissemination in organisations:

To Create Awareness: Information is often disseminated in order to educate, explain or promote a concept, process or principle. For example, technical specifications explaining system capabilities, instruction about alternatives to avoid congested transport routes and guidelines for the completion of work in order to ensure consistent appearance of project deliverables are all ways in which information is disseminated to generally encourage recipients to comply with a procedure in the belief of organizational or enterprise improvements.

To Enhance the Response of Customers: Sometimes information is disseminated solely in the hope it will cause some feedback that might require further information to be generated or be used to validate something. Examples include advertising, questionnaires, market surveys frequently asked question list and testimonials.

To allow Collaboration: Information is often disseminated in order for a group of individuals to share knowledge and routes of communication. Examples include workflow systems to support the flow of information between system entities in order to achieve a common purpose, mailing lists where like minded individuals can listen to and discuss common issues, libraries where people can access information, and control system where probes might detect and transmit warnings about certain event(Fink, 1983).

Background of Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL)

Audit Services Sierra Leone is the supreme audit institution of Sierra Leone section 119 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone provides for the establishment of the offices and functions of the Auditor General. It started with establishment of the Audit Act of 1962. It was later called the Auditor General’s Department then the office was moved from the Audit General’s Department to Audit service Sierra Leone due to the Audit service Act 1998 which was implemented in 2004. The Act also created an Audit Service Board (ASB) an Advisory Board which has the power to appoint persons, other than the Auditor General to hold or act in offices as member of the Audit service and to exercise disciplinary control over such persons.

The Audit Service Sierra Leone is headed by the Auditor General who is assisted by four deputies. Its headquarters is at Lotto Building in Freetown with other offices in Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema. Also, the Auditor Generals Mandate is specified in section 119 sub sections “2” of the 1991 constitution. It provides for the Auditor General to audit all government ministries, department, agencies, educational institutions and any other statutory body set up partly or wholly out of public funds. This mandate now includes the 39 aligned ministries and departments’ 19 council’s one hundred and forty-nine chiefdom authorities, 64 statutory bodies and donor funded projects.

Methods of Information Dissemination at the Audit Service Sierra Leone

This organisation uses both manual and electronic for Information dissemination:

Manual means of Information Delivery Dissemination.

The manual means of information dissemination in the Audit Service Sierra Leone are as follow:
• Printed copy of the Auditor General report and other document.
• Disseminate of copy of the Auditor General report and other report to various people.
• Disseminating of the Audit Services newsletter internally and externally to various takes holder.
• Organising meetings with civil society group.
• Awareness raising programs in various schools, groups and universities.

Electronic means of Information Delivery Dissemination.

The electronic means of information dissemination in the Audit Service Sierra Leone are as follow:
• Publishing the Auditor General (AG) report on the Audit Services web-site.
• Airing of the Audit Service juggle of various radio service.
• Disseminating of information through social media eg. Facebook, Whatsapp and Tango etc.
• Organising radio discussions or programs on various radio stations. During the radio programmes, listeners were given the opportunity to respond to issues discussed by making phone calls and sending text messages to numbers that were announced to them. The panelists responded adequately to the questions and comments during the radio programmes.
• Radio jingle-As part of the awareness raising programmes, the communication division produced a radio jingle in English and it was later translate in four local languages (Mende, Temne, Krio and Limba). The jingles are aired on various radio stations in the country.

Users of Information at the Audit Service Sierra Leone

A user of information is a person or an organization using the information created by another institution or organisation. In using the information the users are most often identifiable in advance. They use information on a daily basis because of certain work, assignment or work tasks. The following are the Information service of Audit Service Sierra Leone:

Administrative Personnel

Employees of an organization and staff of the HRM department to be specific can access records about their operational and organisation maintenance to make correct decision and solve administrative problems. Directors within the HRM will also obtain information from the record department for taking decisions pertaining promotion, recruitment, transfer and payment of retirement benefits.

Researcher / External user

Audit services are research oriented as a matter of fact, researchers use their information to gain knowledge of the department or the civil service researching on the activities and initiatives of the government. The outcome of these research activities is normally for academic purposes which will help the researcher to gain an in depth knowledge about the ways staff or civil servants, are recruited, promoted, and terminated.

Journalists

The other important users of the information generated at the Audit service office are journalist who may want to investigate claims pertaining poor recruitment and appointment of personnel in the various departments.

Types of Information Acquired at the Audit Service Sierra Leone

Operation Audit Information

A Future- oriented, systematic and independent evaluation of organization activities. Financial data may be used, but the primary sources of evidence are the operational policies and achievements related to organizational objectives. Internal controls and efficiencies may be evaluated during this types of information review.

Financial Information Audit

A historically oriented, independent evaluation performed for the purpose of attesting to the fairness, accuracy, and reliability of financial data. External auditors need this type of information.

Department Information Review
A current period analysis of administration functions to evaluate the adequacy of controls, safeguarding of assets, efficient use of resources, compliance with related laws, regulations and universal policy and integrity of financial information.

Investigative Information Audit

This types of information takes place as a result of a report of unusual or suspicious activity on the part of an individual or a department. It is usually focused on specific aspects of the work of a department or individual. All members of the community are invited to report suspicions of improper activity to the Director of Internal Auditing Services on a confidential basis.

Follow up Information Audit

These are information conducted approximately six months after an internal or external audit report has been issued. They are designed to evaluate corrective action that has been taken on the audit issues reported in the original report when these follow up audits information are done an external auditors reports, the results of the follow up may be reported to those external auditors.

Integrated Information Audit

This is a combination of an operational audit, department review, and its audit application controls review. This type of review allows for a functional operation within the institution (Silver, 2010).

Challenges faced in Information Dissemination at the Audit Service Sierra Leone

Some problems that Audit service encounters with audit information are highlighted as follows:

Finance Problem

One problem that is affecting the institution’s information delivery is finance, and for any organization to survive or sustain thorough development these should be some amount of finance. The organisation faces financial serious challenges in their information service delivery.

Poor Planning of Information Service

The information service is not well effective in the audit service because the people responsible for that are not professionally trained. Only few of them have the capability to do the work in the audit department because of the fact that the information is not received at the right time in line with the needs of the users. The committee does not meet regularly to discuss issues on that.

Lack of Adequate Staff

The challenge of inadequate and untrained staffing situation poses a serious problem for the smooth running of the organisation. The issue of inappropriate staffing can hamper the smooth handling and delivery of information.

In conclusion, information delivery of audit information plays a vital crucial role in the effective management of staff, in any organization. Information is at the heart of any organization or institution that performs the activities related to learning, teaching, research and generation of new knowledge. The goal of information delivery at audit service is to attract and retain a workforce that will enable the institution or organization to achieve its purpose and objectives. However, this work has considered some of the more common pitfalls that hamper effective in Information dissemination which auditors should avoid during the source of their work.

How To Improve Your Business’ Cash Flow Forecast With Factoring

Cash flow forecasting is good business practice for any business.

The cash flow forecast is divided into periods of time and shows the flow of cash through a business, what it starts the month with, what it receives, what it pays out and the balance of cash left at the end of the month. Normally the period will be months but where cash is tight a business may forecast their cash flow on a weekly or even daily basis.

The key issues that factoring addresses is that businesses tend to sell on credit terms to each other. That means that if you raise an invoice today it will typically be on 30 days payment terms. That means that it will be 30 days from today’s date until that invoice is due for payment.

The reality is that the time taken to pay that invoice can be much longer, may be 60 or even 90 days. There may be 101 different reasons for this but as examples, in some cases the customer may only pay invoices at the end of each month which means that an invoice received mid-month may only be paid at the end of the following month. In addition, businesses often stretch out their payments to suppliers, beyond their payment terms, in order to fund their own businesses. Put simply, if they don’t pay your invoice they don’t have to borrow the money from their bank in order to pay your invoice!

Below is an example of how delayed payment of invoices can affect the cash flow forecast of a small business:

Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4
Invoices raised (£)
10000 10000 10000 10000

Invoices outstanding at beginning of month
0 10000 20000 30000

Invoices paid by debtors during month
0 0 0 10000

Invoices outstanding at end of month
10000 20000 30000 30000

You can see that the business does not receive any cash from invoices being paid by debtors until Month 4.

Despite the lack of payment of your invoices the product still has to be purchased and delivered to the customer. Even if you are able to get credit terms from your suppliers it is unlikely that they will be long enough to account for the extended time that customers may take to pay you. Similarly, all your business expenses and bills still fall due each month and you need cash to pay them despite not having been paid by your customers. This creates a cash flow gap – the gap between the time that you have to pay your expenses and bills and the time that you get payment from your customers for the goods or services that you provide.

The cash flow forecast below shows how the expenses of the business fall due from Month 1 onwards but because of the delays in being paid by debtors, the business has a negative cash position throughout the forecast that will need to be funded from somewhere:

Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4
Invoices raised (£)
10000 10000 10000 10000

Invoices outstanding at beginning of month
0 10000 20000 30000

Invoices paid by debtors during month
0 0 0 10000

Invoices outstanding at end of month
10000 20000 30000 30000

Cash on hand at beginning of month
0 -6000 -12000 -18000

Cash received during month
0 0 0 10000

Expenses paid during month
6000 6000 6000 6000

Cash on hand at end of month
-6000 -12000 -18000 -14000

One solution is factoring bridges that cash flow gap, as soon as you raise your invoices a copy goes to the factoring company who then provide you with 85% (sometimes more) of their value immediately. That 85% means that you have the bulk of the money immediately, certainly enough to pay your expenses and bills within a business that has even the most reasonable of profit margins.

This cash flow forecast shows the same business but you will see that from Month 1 they receive 85% of the value of the invoices that they raise immediately:
NB Factoring charges are not shown in these examples but should be added into your forecast
That 85% is then repaid to the factoring company when the customer finally gets around to paying and the remaining 15% then becomes available to you from that payment (less the charges that the factoring company makes).

The above cash flow forecast also shows the effect of that balance of funds being past onto the business, after the customers pay, in month 4.

So by using forms of invoice finance such as factoring a business that could not afford to fund its cash flow gap is able to adequately provide enough cash to pay its business expenses as soon as it starts trading.

Personal Training and Information Literacy

Scholarship, Practice, and Leadership

Information literacy is extremely important in the health and wellness industry, more specifically in the personal training field. It takes a short amount of time and education to become a personal trainer, and the pay is relatively high for what a person needs accomplish to become certified. An abundance of personal trainers exists because of the high pay, the short amount of time it takes to become certified, and the growing need for society to improve their health. In order for a personal trainer to stand out and become sought-after for their repeated results and excellent workouts, the trainer must be an expert at researching information, comprehending new research, and applying both.

In the article How we Failed the Net Generation, Badke discusses the World Wide Web saying, “… few of us had any idea what it would become in less than 2 decades. Many of our students grew up with the web, so for them it is not a novelty. It’s mainstream. It’s embedded in their lives” (Badke, 2009, p. 47). Most personal trainers only have completed a certification, very limited in information about exercise science, and not a degree at a college or university. Because of their lack of education, the first place most trainers turn for their information is the World Wide Web and not scholarly, peer reviewed research studies. The Internet is not a credible source for information. Anyone can write a blog or post fitness workouts and nutrition information based solely on opinion, and not scientific studies. In order for a personal trainer to ensure they are providing safe and effective workouts to their clients, the trainer must be able not only to read and study research studies but also keep up with the changing information.

One topic not taught in a personal training certification is how to find and decipher sound fitness information. Pia Russell discusses how students are facing the same issues as personal trainers in their studies.

Students have difficulty evaluating the glut of information available, and to cope they frequently depend on quick but questionable sources, like Dictionary.com, which can result in a blind acceptance of advertising-based information, or sources that depend on a truth by consensus approach such as Wikipedia. (Russell, 2009, p. 92).

In order for a personal trainer to be an expert in their field, someone people will listen to, and follow, the trainer needs to stay up-to-date on current research. Personal trainers need to know how to search for information when they face questions they are unsure of. A personal trainer’s job is not only to provide an effective workout but also to educate their clients with researched based information.

Larissa Turusheva discusses the importance of information competence in lifelong learning and education. In Larissa’s study she states,

Information competence is a skill:

• to determine the size of the necessary information;

• to use the necessary information effectively;

• to evaluate the information and its sources critically;

• to develop own knowledge base with the information chosen;

• to effectively use the information for goal achievement;

• to use the information ethically (ACRL, 2000). (Turusheva, 2009, p. 2).

In the personal training field every skill involved in information competence is important. A personal trainer must determine which information is important and which information is not. The trainer needs to evaluate where the information is coming from and apply the necessary information to help the trainer’s clients reach his or her goals fast and effectively. The most important skill a trainer must apply in information competency is using the information ethically. It is unethical for a personal trainer who knows their client has a heart condition to instruct their client to do contraindicative exercises when the trainer knows those exercises put the client at risk. This situation could occur for many reasons. The trainer could be working with a group and does not want to give an alternate exercise or the trainer could want to push their client harder. Implementing ethical practices is part of information competence and extremely important in the personal training profession.

Leo Appleton conducted a study about the information competency skills of student midwives. In the study, the students were taught information research skills and the grading requirements became stricter to promote credible information sources. The results of Appleton’s study showed, “Students reported increased confidence in using library and information resources. Appropriate and timely information-skills training embedded into health-studies curricula can lead to students becoming independent and lifelong learners, as well as improving the standard of their academic work” (Appleton, 2005, p. 1). Not only were these students able to learn how to effectively search and decipher information during their schooling, but also, the training followed the students into their careers in the health field. Personal trainers who have information competency will be able to provide their clients with everything they need to be successful, long term.
Conclusion

Information literacy is vital in every profession and should be taught and enforced when students are in school. Students need to be taught the valuable skills needed to conduct quality research and decipher the material. Those skills will follow students into their careers, where they will be considered experts in their field and leaders. Even if the students are just trying to become certified in a certain field, those skills should be taught during the certification process. Most personal trainers receive only a certification and are never taught how to research accurate information. Because of this the trainers turn to the Internet for their answers. In turn, many personal trainers are making recommendations to their clients based on opinion and not research. This practice has serious implications for the health of their clients and the personal trainer’s credibility. Personal trainers must learn the skill of literacy competence.
To your health,

Jessica Summerall

References

Appleton, L. (2005). Examination of the impact of information-skills training on the academic work of health-studies students: a single case study. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 22(3), 164-172. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2005.00576.x

Badke, W. (2009). How we failed the net generation. Online, 33(4), 47-49.

Russell, P. (2009). Why Universities Need Information Literacy Now More than Ever. Feliciter, 55(3), 92.

Turusheva, L. (2009). STUDENTS’ INFORMATION COMPETENCE AND ITS IMPORTANCE FOR LIFE-LONG EDUCATION. Problems Of Education In The 21St Century, 12126-132.

Cash Flow Forecasting for Milestone Billing

Forecasting cash flow for a one invoice project is pretty easy to understand. Cash will hit your bank account when that invoice becomes due. But what about projects that have multiple billing milestones? How can you predict cash flow for multiple future billings over an extended period of time?

*What do you really want to know?*

Part of the confusion with predicting cash flow is understanding which tool to use for the job. QuickBooks does have a cash flow forecasting report which is useful for telling you what should happen for the invoices and bills that have been entered into the system. This type of forecast will easily show you when payments should arrive in your bank account (if everyone pays what they owe on time) and when payments will leave your bank account (if you have every payment entered as a bill and pay them on time). If you want to know what should happen, the QuickBooks report will work just fine. If you want to know what will happen based on real life conversations….keep reading.

To generate the QuickBooks type of cash flow forecasting for progress billing, you would need to enter your invoices at the beginning of the project. You would then set a reminder to actually send the invoice on the date of said invoice. This approach is dangerous. There’s a pretty big risk that the invoice won’t be sent or, if the scope changes, no on will remember those invoices were out there. In those cases, your cash flow forecasting is wrong and you’ll end up calling collections for invoices that were never sent and/or aren’t owed.

*Real life is messy.*

In addition to the risks involved with invoicing early, the forecasting report is limited to what SHOULD happen. We all know real life is messier and you want to know what WILL happen to your cash. Every day you are having conversations about late invoices or accepting payment arrangements. You know that your biggest client always pays at 60 days, even though the invoice is due in 30 days. The only way to get those adjustments into QuickBooks is to change what should happen to what will happen.Do we really want to change due dates in QuickBooks to match what you know will happen? Absolutely not! We want our accounting systems to reflect our contractual agreements. We need to accurately reflect how past due invoices actually are. How else will you have effective collections conversations?

*A better tool for the job.*

The cash flow forecast, on the other hand, needs to be an estimation of what really will happen. A relatively simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is usually the best tool for the job. This spreadsheet will track when you expect your revenue to hit the bank account and when your bills and payroll will leave the bank account. The first column (each column represents a time period, usually a week) in your spreadsheet will begin with your bank account balance, then add incoming cash, subtract outgoing cash, and finally total to what you expect to have left in the bank. That ending bank balance will be the beginning bank balance in the next column (time period)…wash, rinse, repeat.

For our progress invoicing question, as soon as the project agreement is signed, we can drop the cash receipts into the weeks we estimate they’ll be received. Of course, the project may change course causing the invoice dates and cash receipt expectations to change. When that happens, we’ll make those adjustments in our spreadsheet and immediately see the impact on our cash balance.

Keeping an updated cash flow forecast will enable you to make smart money decisions. If you see the ending balance is going negative, you know you need to make some adjustments to your plan. If you want to make a large purchase or extend longer payment terms to a client, you can make those adjustments in your forecast; you’ll know if you have enough cash to support it before you make the commitment.