On the scene: Celebration of D’Angelo’s and the Vanguards’ album release Black Messiah at Spinster Records in Bishop Arts

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Moving Outside of IT

IT professionals aren’t usually skilled in focusing in on business skills that could potentially help them grow career-wise. They usually focus on technology and keeping up with technological advancements. This  IT/ business divide needs to be united in order for an IT professional to advance in their career especially if they are trying to move into the field of consulting.

Although the IT department and the rest of the business usually function separately, it is imperative to understand how much IT affects the health and growth of a business. Joshua Hoffman, former editor and chief of Tech Net magazine, says “When technology is applied to real business problems using a solutions-oriented approach, it can add value directly to any organization’s bottom line.” This is part of an IT consultant’s job. (Hoffman)

IT consultants enhance business processes through information technology. A consultant is a system designer, a software architect, and an application developer. In addition to this, a major part of consulting is project scoping and planning, project management support, and business processing. An IT consultant must be able to assess how new technology can help their business achieve goals, make jobs easier by using new tools and also how much time can be saved through using new technology. Consulting consists of more than taking trainings on different technological operating systems; you also have to be able to communicate how much value IT brings to your company. Being able to communicate effectively is a vital part of being a consultant (Hoffman).

A consultant needs problem solving skills in order to create solutions-oriented strategies through IT initiatives. He or she musts be able to look at a problem their organization is having and think about how IT can be used to solve it. This takes project management skills and the ability to strategically plan activities utilizing IT to improve a business through helping a company function more efficiently.

A consultant must be able to create plans that are “feasible, realistic or even appropriate based on business needs.” A big part of being able to do this is being able to communicate with executives outside of the IT department so budgets and timelines are accurate and meet the expectations of the business. It is important that the IT and business goals are aligned(Hoffman).

Other skills that consultants need are advisory, technical, business, communication and management skills. An IT professional’s ability to master the non technical skills is very important. In the article, Getting the Most Bang for Your IT Consulting Buck, Chip James who is the AVP for information technology at Colonial Life shared an experience where he thought he hired the best IT consultant based on technical skills. The consultant was considered a “technical rock star” but they caused lot of HR and team issues. The lack of personality and non technical skills hindered the project from thriving ( Bartholomew).

On top of mastering non technical skills, it is important for the consultant to always operate in the businesses best interest. He or she also has to be familiarized with the company, its goals and culture otherwise a consultant may steer a company away from its mission. The consultant should be a good cultural fit with the company. This means he fits with the staff and IT employees. The business strategy should drive the IT consultant (Bartholomew).

According to Juventus Consulting, IT consulting revolves around five basic principles. The principles are focus on the relationship, clearly defined role, visualize success, you advise, they decide and be oriented towards results. Focusing on the relationship consists of understanding the culture of the company, expectations, how the company is organized and being familiarized with the stakeholders. Clearly defining roles consist of defining your role and responsibilities as well as the clients, stakeholders and consulting team. It is important to help the client visualize success by being able to communicate with the client and help them see the end at the beginning. You advise, they decide is self explanatory. When it is all said and done, the client is the best person to make a decision. Lastly, be oriented towards results. This means the IT consultant must come up with a solution to the problem that addresses concerns, user training, implementation and maintenance constraints.

Bartholomew, D. (2010). Getting the Most Bang for Your IT Consulting Buck. Insurance Networking News, 13(9), 30-32.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/hh407118.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/gg703766.aspx

 

Financial Management in Non Profit Organizations

Introduction

 Financial management in nonprofit organizations is a very important part of running a successful not-for- profit organization. First, it is important to understand the difference between for profit organizations and a not- for- profit organizations. The main goal of a for-profit organization is to make a profit and to maximize their shareholder value. Although it is important for for-profit organizations to make a profit, their main purpose is to “provide a socially desirable need on an ongoing basis (Blackbaud Inc., 2004).” For-profits rely on exchange transactions. This transaction can happen between businesses, a business to a customer etc. Not-for- profit organizations rely on money that is donated for a specific purpose and that money has to be used for that particular purpose which decreases the flexibility of a not-for profit organization.

 Why is Financial Management in Not- For Profit Organizations important?

 This is one of the reasons why financial management in not-for-profit organizations and why management and reporting these activities are very important. A not-for- profit organization must show what they are doing with donated resources. The staffs of the organization have to be able to show exactly where dollars are going and how they are being used. Two important areas of financial management in these organizations are budgeting and cash management. These organizations have to pay close attention to if they have enough cash in reserve. This can be difficult seeing that predicting the cash flow is challenging since the organization has to rely on resource providers (Blackbaud Inc., 2004).

Management and Protection of Financial Resources

 Without the proper resources, an organization may not achieve its mission or survive this rough economy. This is why management and protection of financial resources is crucial to the life of a not-for profit organization. Financial resources consist of money, goods and services. Money is cash, checking, savings, securities, and investments an organization has. Goods are the merchandise, supplies and equipment. Services are the programs and activities that are offered to the clients. These resources have to be protected so the risks associated with financial management can be reduced. These risks can be caused by the reduction in value or loss of financial assets caused by an action of an internal or external source (Center, 2011).

When an organization suffers through a financial loss, they have a limited cash flow which reduces the amount of spending of that organization. This can cause an organization to cut back by eliminating staff, reducing hours, and adjusting services. This hurts the staff and the clients. Also in many cases, financial losses can bring an organization negative publicity. Negative publicity can decrease donations and the number of volunteers who are willing to work with that organization. It can also tarnish the reputations of the people associated with the not-for- profit (Center, 2011).

  Inappropriate Use of Funds

 One of the main uses of a board is to help a not-for- profit organization focus on the mission of the organization. They can do this through monitoring progress of the organization by paying close attention to how funds are being used. The funding that an organization receives may come with restrictions and limits on its use. It is very important to pay attention to this.

The inappropriate use of funds can cause a withdrawal of money, having to repay the money, and not receiving future funding or even worse, the loss of their tax exempt status or other legal issues (Center, 2011).

Budgets

 A budget is an organizations operating plan for the year. It is the board and staff’s decision on how the organization will fulfill its purpose. They have to decide on the programs they want to put into effect and then allocate resources accordingly. The budget gives the staff goals to reach and the steps needed to achieve these goals. The budget should show how funds are being allocated and how to get the maximum use of these funds. It can also point out potential problems in the future (Blackbaud Inc., 2004).

A budget can help an organization in reporting their efforts and what they were able to accomplish. An effective budget can also give a criterion to adhere to just in case a change was needed or when a course of action needs to be altered or refined. As new situations arise, a budget should be updated. As unforeseen circumstances come along, the budget should change to accommodate it. Without the participation of the staff to fulfill the mission of the organization there is no point of a budget (Blackbaud Inc., 2004).

 Asset Management

           It is important that an organization has enough assets to finance their current operations. They have to be able to balance between available assets and growing assets. Organizations also have to be able to pay debts in a timely manner and meet other financial responsibilities. “After budget is developed, the organization must focus on financing current operations by making the most of current or liquid assets and maximize resources to enhance return on the resources or capital (Blackbaud Inc., 2004).” An important part of managing assets is the ability to maximize resources. Managing cash inflows and outflows is very important because with many nonprofits these fluctuate throughout the year. This increases the importance of budgeting because financial obligations have to be met in a timely manner.

 501(c) (3) Organizations

 501(c)(3) organizations are able to receive tax deductible contributions which makes them eligible for support from the government and other private sources. They are also exempt from federal income tax, federal unemployment tax, sales tax on goods purchased for organizations use, and local property taxes. These organizations are not allowed to engage in political campaigns, are limited on lobbying, and limited to trade and business that are not related to the purpose of the organization. Also, earnings cannot benefit private individuals (Wilson, 2011).

 The Use of Fund Accounting

 It is important that an organization makes sure that they have enough liquid assets to cover their current financial responsibilities. A not-for-profit organization should try to maintain a balance between available assets and invested or growing assets. They should also be able to pay back debts in a timely manner and meet other financial responsibilities. “After the budget is developed, the not-for-profit must focus on smoothly financing current operations by making the most efficient use of current or liquid funds, and my maximizing available and obtainable resources to enhance return on the resources or capital (Blackbaud Inc., 2004).”

 Conclusion

 In Financial Management of not-for profit Organizations you must report how finances are managed daily and you have to be able to show where donated resources are going. As stated at the beginnings of this report, budgeting and cash management are two important areas of financial management for not-for-profit organizations. Fund Accounting is also important because it helps differentiate donated money by time and purpose. This is important because these financial resources come with restrictions from their providers. Not-for- profit organizations should also perform a self assessment to assess the health of the organization so they can continue to grow and survive.

References

Blackbaud Inc. (2004). Financial Management of Not-for-Profit Organizations. White Paper , 1-9.

Center, E. C. (2011). Program Management and Fiscal Operations. Washington: U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

Wilson, C. A. (2011). Basic Financial Management for Non Profit Organizations. Cambridge: Harvard University.

An Analysis of a Manager’s Role

The purpose of this post is to formulate a philosophy and approach to management and address whether the hypothesis of case A has merit and where the concept of leadership fits in the analysis of the manager’s role.

According to the podcast, being a leader is not about a behavior or a trait or being strong or good in regards to being a leader because you can’t act out management. It’s about the assumptions you have about being a leader that you bring to the job with you that determines the kind of leader you will become. What makes a person successful in a leadership position is the ability to influence the activities of an organized group which can be done through goal setting and goal achieving. The manager and or leader have to establish a climate that cultivates productivity and motivate its workers morale. Leaders are environment creators and you have to build relationships.

In the article “Becoming the Boss,” Linda Hill discusses how leadership is about the influence you build by establishing relationships with your team and organization. It’s about building the team as a whole and building a strong fruitful relationship with everyone. Case A falls in line with this philosophy but discusses how a manager’s role is to maintain harmony within an organization. It also agrees that personal values and views have nothing to do with it.

I agree with the podcast and the case but I also have a hard time believing that a person’s personal values, views and traits have little to do with being a successful leader. In the June 2011 E-Scan Newsletter, the trait integrity is discussed as being a top leadership trait. According to Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, Leaders who show a solid moral compass and set a forthright example for their employees foster a work environment where integrity becomes a core value. The issues of ethics and trust are also discussed. I believe a person behavior, traits and values affect how they interact with employees and then ultimately how they affect the environment of the organization.

 

Daft, R. L. (2008). Organization theory and design (10th Ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage

Hill, L. (2006). Becoming the Boss. Harvard Business Review, 1-11.Resources, R. H. (2011). Integrity Seen as Top Leadership Trait. E-Scan Newsletter, Vol. 37 Issue 6, p7-7, 2/3p.

Podcast and Case A given by Instructor

Customer Environment and Recommendation for DR Horton

Customer Environment

DR Horton’s current and potential customers consist of first time home buyers, active adult buyers and the move-up home buyer. Although they cater to all three of these, their expertise lies with the first time home buyer. The first time home buyer represents the largest consumer segment of the U.S new home demand.  They cater to an entry level market and build very simple entry level homes. They build single family detached homes and attached homes (townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, and condominiums) so their customers would include consumers who are interested in such. DR Horton’s customers are diverse due to the geographic diversification they have through operating in 26 states and 72 markets. (Horton, 2010) They adjust their pricing according to the local economy.

DR Horton’s product includes affordable quality housing. This fulfills the customer’s need of finding somewhere to stay. Not only do they provide housing but they also offer a one stop shop for buyers to obtain financial, title, and insurance services through its subsidiaries. They also allow customers the option to customize their house and make it their own. Also, DR Horton may “provide potential homebuyers with one or more of a variety of incentives, including discounts and free upgrades, to be competitive in a particular market. Due to the weak industry conditions of the past four fiscal years, we have offered an increased level of incentives to homebuyers.” (Horton, 2010)

DR Horton’s houses are sold through commissioned employees and independent real estate brokers. These workers can be found in their sales offices which are located in fully furnished model homes in each subdivision. Customers are provided floor plans, price information, and tours of model homes. DR Horton’s employees also assist them with the selection of options and other custom features that come with purchasing a home. (Horton, 2010)

DR Horton competes in a highly competitive market in the homebuilding industry. They compete for customers in national, regional, and local markets for customers who are interested in building or buying an existing home. Customers buy based on quality, price, design, mortgage financing terms and location. In this weak housing market, DR Horton has to compete to acquire customers through pricing and incentives. Customers buy according to who has the best deal in a particular market and location. “Lower costs, lower prices, and a bigger selection are Horton’s foundation.” (Schnurman, 2011)

In order to attract customers, DR Horton advertises in local markets through newspapers, marketing brochures, newsletters and email or other electronic means to prospective homebuyers and real estate brokers. They also use billboards, radio and television advertising and their website to market the location, price range and availability of their homes. (Horton, 2010)

If customers choose not to buy from DR Horton the cause can be attributed to the weak housing market. According to Donald Tomnitz, CEO of DR Horton Dallas, “Until there’s some consumer confidence, until we start to grow jobs, I think we’re just going to continue to be faced with rather flat demand just simply because buyers don’t feel confident about the future and they’re not going out there looking for a house.” (Finkelstein, 2010) Although this may be the case, DR Horton offers many buying incentives that other homebuilders in the market don’t. This helps DR Horton compete in this competitive market and gain customers.

Recommendation

In order for DR Horton to continue competing with competitors in the homebuilding market, we suggest DR Horton updates their website by adding more information and becoming more interactive. They can do this through providing virtual tours of model homes and allowing customers to be their own architect by adding and customizing virtual homes online. Potential customers often visit the website of prospective homes and by updating the website; we believe this will drive more customers to visit the DR Horton offices.

Also, social media is a very prevalent marketing tactic that DR Horton should take advantage of.  DR Horton can advertise discounts and home listings on face book and twitter which will drive customers to visit their communities. On their website, DR Horton should have a “Connect with us now” feature that will connect customers to face book, twitter, and their mobile phone application. Although DR Horton currently has a mobile phone application, there is an opportunity to expand this application by offering more information that will attract more customers. By increasing DR Horton’s web presence through their website and social media, this will increase their visibility on the web to target customers.

Although DR Horton has some green options, these options aren’t being emphasized on their website currently. DR Horton needs to provide more information on energy efficient and green homes online. Providing this information could be used as a marketing tactic to appeal to the environmentally conscience customer.  This is a market that DR Horton needs to expand into.

Lastly, DR Horton should offer a corporate discount program. By developing corporate discount program with large corporations across the U.S, DR Horton could offer a reduced price for employees who have to relocate. The large corporations who choose to partner with DR Horton in this initiative will provide a pamphlet in their relocation package offering a discount on DR Horton homes.

Works Cited

Finkelstein, A. (2010, December 3). D.R. Horton Sees Soft Spring New-Home Sales Market. World Property Channel .

Horton, D. (2010). Annual Report.

Schnurman, M. (2011, February 16). How D.R. Horton is Boosting its Dominance. D Magazine .

 

 

e-Harmony Case Study

Does e-Harmony have a competitive advantage? If so, where does it come from?

E-Harmony definitely has a competitive advantage due to the fact that it is one of the first online personals site centered on connecting marriage minded individuals. Not only did it focus on connecting people but they were also exclusive on who they allowed to use the site. E-Harmony has an extensive registration system consisting of a patented matching system, a guided communication system and a paying membership. One of the founders of this website, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, has much experience in the field of marriage and family relationships. He practiced psychology in this area for 35 years. He took what he learned through his practice and decided to help people with selecting a potential partner. He created E- Harmony for this reason and had the experience to do so.
E-Harmony is for single people who are interested in a serious relationship. This distinguishes e-Harmony from other sites where people are looking for what is referred to as “quick hook ups.” This site is for people looking for something long-term, a commitment. E-Harmony focused in on this untapped market and gained a competitive edge that was hard for other sites that would come along in the future to match. They also have a membership growth that has been unmatched by competitors. While competitor websites stalled in their membership rates, e-Harmony soared. Their members proved to be more loyal.
All in all, e-Harmony’s competitive advantage comes from being one of the first online personals site in its target market and also because of the system they have created to match individuals. They have a unique process that other competitors have tried to replicate to no avail.

How serious is the competitive threat to e-Harmony?

The competitive threat to e-Harmony is pretty serious. Although, other sites have not matched their membership rates or how much revenue that has been made who knows what will happen in the future. Many of e-Harmony’s competitors try to copy their system of match making and one day one of them may take their idea and make it better possibly tapping into markets that e-Harmony has not. Currently, Match.com is their biggest competitor. Recently, Match has started a new website named Chemistry that caters to the “serious relationship market” that e-Harmony has catered to. They even have a three step process for matching potential mates just like e-Harmony. Other websites are also easier to join. They have a shorter registration process which attracts customers that were deterred away from the e- Harmony process.
Free sites are also a competitive threat due to the fact that people like things that are free. They are growing rapidly in membership. Paying is seen as a barrier and these web sites do not have it. Plenty of Fish is an example of one of these websites and they receive 20% more visits than e-Harmony. Niche sites are a threat in my opinion because of their biggest segment being the gay/lesbian market. This is a market that e-Harmony has not tapped into. Online social networks are a threat because it serves as a valuable search tool for people who are looking into dating someone.

What is your recommendation to e-Harmony?

I recommend that e-Harmony broadens their customer base. There are so many markets that e-Harmony could cater to. The only thing about that is broadening the customer base goes against what e-Harmony has built their member base on, marriage minded individuals. This is why I suggest e-Harmony start a new website that caters to casual daters. This casual dating website can also cater to the growing niche of gay and lesbian daters. I believe it is important that e-Harmony caters to the changing demographic of their potential customers and build a new website to do so. I also believe that e-Harmony would compete more with the other like-minded websites by lowering the price of their membership so they will be able to compete with sites like Match in the long run.
E-Harmony should also consider a geographic expansion. This would bring in more members if they offered e-Harmony in other places of the world that doesn’t have the site currently. There is no reason why e-Harmony should not be worldwide and the time is now to make this expansion.
In conclusion, in order for e-Harmony to maintain its title as one of the leading online personals site it is time for them to expand in every way. E-Harmony needs to expand the markets that it caters to and also expand geographically.

Hartline, O. F. (2011). Marketing Strategy. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning.

“Without a doubt, our industry has a compelling story to tell about the value it creates. Profound changes are taking place in the communications world, notably the rise of digital and social media.  Because public relations practitioners have always been at their core wonderful storytellers, we are well-positioned to generate content and engage online communities through a variety of digital platforms.” – Andy Polansky

http://www.culpwrit.com/2010/12/01/public-relations-on-the-rise/

Karren Hodge