Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Impact of Google Docs: How should C-Level employees react?

Google Docs or Google Drive as it is known today is a very useful tool but it has its limits.  I use it for personal use all the time and I really don't know how I could operate with it.  But for corporations it is little more complicated.  In the end it depends on the size of the company.  I worked for a tech start-up where we only had 6 employees (20 before I left) and Google Docs was such an easy way to share information.  Also, since we didn't have a local server we can all access it was also a good way to share files that are too big to move via email.  For small companies it is a great tool at a very low price. 

But as the company grows and the work they produce becomes more complicated and involves many more people C-Level individuals need to worry about potential security risks.  This could be as simple as files being corrupted and a project's work is lost causing your team to do double work which could delay projects as well as give your company a bad reputation.  There is also the possibility of another firm attempting to steal your work via hackers.  Since Google Docs requires the company to open their network of files to Google or the Internet at large there is a gaping hole that IT needs to watch for potential risks.  It becomes very easy for hackers to get behind the company firewall.  Many projects have sensitive information about the company and our clients.  There is no amount of potential savings that is worth ruining a comoany's reputation. 

It can be used on a small scale for items deemed for public viewing in order to releive storage capicity on the local firewalled server.  If this can be manged in a way that will not burden the IT department I would suggest using Google Docs but I cant imagine there is much savings in using Google and would onlu add another layer of confusion with employees as far as where files are. 

I beleive that Google is working on creating a sense of security around thier system.  Until they do so it will be very difficult for any C-Level employee to agree to use Google Docs or any other Cloud based system as a main source of storage.  Companys who have secrets worth billions of dollars are not worried about saving 1, 2 or 10 million on storage facilities.  In the end, if a company cant keep thier Intelectula property protected who would want to do business with them?  So it isn't jsut the lsot money or the lose of conveniance, it is about the character and reputation of the company as whole. One bad move can seriously hurt potential growth and value of the company. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Blogs: Is this something we should incorporate into our company?

Hi Sir,

I am responding to your inquiry regarding internal blogs and its use to incentivize communication between different parts of our company.  We have a global presence and we operate in different parts of the hearing aid industry.  We have individuals scattered all over the world who speak different languages and have many cultural backgrounds, each with a different perspective on the industry.  They will never be able to efficiently communicate with each other on daily functions.  I understand you would like to use a blog on our Intranet site to connect all of these individuals in order for ideas to be shared across the company on how they tackle their daily tasks and ideas on we can be more efficient. 

Like many other issues this one has its pros and cons.  The biggest pro I see is that it has the potential to save many labor hours.  People can openly discuss day to day issues they have resolved in their particular aspect of the business.  For instance,  a finance team in Denmark has figured out how to get payroll data electronically which will allow them to upload the figures instead of manually entering it, saving them 3 hrs each month.  This team will be encouraged to post this new found knowledge on the blog and can be a highlight on the Intranet home page.  Another example is a production manager in our Poland facility has designed his line to save 8 minutes off of each unit produced.  As you may know we produce 100s of thousands of units each month and if we can shave 8 minutes off a unit produced we may be able to reduce one or two head which will make a real impact on our Gross Margin figures. 

Here are some figures that can give you some perspective on how both examples can impact our bottom line.  An average finance person makes $25/hr.  The one blog entry regarding saving 3hrs each month can save our company $75/month per finance team.  We have 15 finance teams doing this task which gives us a total savings of $13,500 each year, though this figure seems small relative to the volume we produce it is from one blog entry and one specific activity.  The second example has a much bigger impact.  We produced 330,000 units last year that are influenced by the activity the production manager in Poland helped shorten.  It costs us $120 per unit in direct labor which takes an 1 hour to complete.  8 minutes is 13% of an hour which relates to $15.6 per unit.  Our total savings from this one particular blog posted from a mid-level manger in Poland could save our company $5.148 million each year.  This is real savings that has a direct impact on our bottom line.

The biggest con I see, besides the blog not being used at all, is if our employees are so motivated to come up with blogs and ideas to help the company that their work productivity is hindered. Production managers might not be as focused on what is happening that we could add 8 minutes to the production time which would increase our costs by the same $5 million.  There is also the possibility of creating more work than needed.  For instance, using the payroll as an example.  If one of our finance teams attempts to duplicate the new payroll function and spend weeks trying to figure out if and how to integrate this in their process but in the end find out they can't.  This of course would cost us money in labor hours wasted. 

My recommendation would be institute the blog and give clear guidelines on how they should be used and that current work should not be affected.  If we can make it convenient for managers and entry level employees to access and jot down ideas but not a time consuming task the company can really benefit.  Moral would be high since those we can bring something positive to the table would be reward in some reasonable way and recognized throughout our organization.     

Please let me know if you would like to sit down and walk through this recommendation to hammer out some of the details.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I am hoping that the MBA program at Montclair will expand the possibilities in my career.