Posts by Kyle Stemple, CPA, CGMA Director of Manufacturing Services:
When you think about the utility of Lean Six Sigma, you are likely thinking about its usage in the manufacturing industry. But did you know that business owners across a wide range of industries can find value in Lean Six Sigma as well? The usefulness of this practice spans far beyond a manager’s ability to improve efficiency on the production room floor. In fact, this discipline has yielded significant results in a variety of businesses spanning all types industries with varying product and service offerings.
Start listening and Discover The Hidden Factory of Lean Business Building on unsuitable on Rea Radio
Why You Should Run A Lean Office
Like most businesses (if not all businesses), one of the basic tenants of Lean Six Sigma is to understand and drive client value. Using this fact as a starting point, the Lean Six Sigma discipline is then used to identify areas of improvement in your organization while implementing effective, more efficient, solutions.
Even though a manufacturing company and a doctor’s office appear to be fundamentally different, both organizations can find significant value through the implementation of Lean Six Sigma because they share the same basic tenant – to understand and drive client value. From a healthcare perspective we know that patients value shorter wait times and improved professional interaction. Using Lean Six Sigma, we would review the office’s processes and determine how to make them more effective in the interest of driving client value. One solution might be to improve the general organization of the office. Doing so could feasibly result in greater efficiency among the staff, shorter wait times and longer, more meaningful interactions with patients.
This same scenario can play out in all offices where client value is considered a priority.
Better Quality Begins At The Beginning
When you have two people doing the same job without any formal processes, they’re bound to produce different results. Unfortunately, lack of consistency negatively impacts the company’s overall ability to produce quality products and/or services.
Companies and organizations that implement Lean Six Sigma, go through the exercise of deconstructing organizational processes to determine best practices, implement changes and establish quality control measures throughout every step of the process – not just at the end. Making quality a priority early in the process will consistently produce higher quality products and services.
Just Getting Started
Obviously we are just scratching the service of what Lean Six Sigma can do. I recently had the opportunity to talk about the effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma on an episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio with Mark Van Benschoten where I was able to talk a little more about the practice. You can go to www.reacpa.com/podcast or click the play button on the media player below to listen to our conversation. You can also email Rea & Associates if you have questions this topic.
By Kyle Stemple (New Philadelphia office)
Check out these articles for even more tips to help you move the needle:
Those in the manufacturing industry are familiar with the significance of implementing tactics to increase efficiency and effectiveness throughout the organization. But did you know that these same concepts can benefit businesses outside of the manufacturing realm?
Consider the five key principles identified in Jim Womack’s book, The Machine that Changed the World and think about how they relate to your company.
- The customer defines value.
- The company must focus on eliminating waste. (Waste is defined as any activity that doesn’t add value to the company.)
- The customer establishes pull.
- The company must involve and empower people who add value.
- Total cost is the ultimate performance metric.
Now, reflecting on these principles, how can you optimize performance of your people while optimizing the customer experience?
Focus On The Big Picture
You want to be successful. To do that, you must have a clear understanding of what “success” looks like to you. A good way to do this is to identify challenges (present and future) that may hinder you from realizing your maximum potential. Once you know what you are looking for, you can generate proactive solutions – ultimately increasing your efficiency.
You may consider Lean Six Sigma to be a tactic solely for manufacturing companies. But Lean can actually be very valuable to all types of companies. But first, you have to understand the Lean concept. First, Lean is not “headcount reduction” and thinking of it as such could result in greater long-term problems. When you decide to embrace a Lean approach to business, you should actually be committed to:
- Understanding your customers better and making sure the processes your business adopts meets (and exceeds) their expectations.
- Harnessing your employees’ knowledge to better serve your customers.
- Continuous improvement while building greater business capacity.
Things Are not Always What They Seem
When you embark on your Lean journey, financial struggles early on are normal. It can be scary at first, but if you are persistent, you will ultimately realize positive results. Think about it this way, traditional absorption accounting allocates overhead to inventory. As inventories are reduced in the interest of becoming lean, prior period costs are expensed in the current period. When your finance experts and executive leadership team aren’t aware of this transitional lag, they may mistakenly associate Lean with declining profits. Instead, keep going – pretty soon you should be able to notice improvements to your company’s cash flow.
Take The Plunge
Your Lean initiative will only be successful if management commits to its success. Therefore, they must fully commit to the concept while taking the time to become familiar with the benefits of Lean. Sure, dipping your toe in and testing the waters may seem like a safe bet, but unless you take the full plunge, you will never realize your company’s full potential and world-class results.
Lean continues to evolve from a manufacturing concept to one likened to secret weapon used to boost the effectiveness of office and administrative processes (and so much more). In this era when continued improvement is idealized, Lean has emerged as the answer. Could your company benefit by becoming Lean? Listen to this 17-minute podcast to find out.
Learn more about Lean and how it can transform your business. Listen to Don’t Settle For A Plate Of Spaghetti on Unsuitable on Rea Radio at www.rea.com/podcast or on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Some organizations switch auditors regularly — that can mean going to a new firm or just getting a new lead auditor — but there can be both advantages and disadvantages to this practice.
Although the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates how often public companies need to switch lead auditors, there’s no requirement for anyone else to do so. It’s individually determined by the organization.
Mark Van Benschoten recently sat down with Smart Business to discuss the pros and cons of an auditor rotation and also best practices. To read the full article, check it out on Smart Business’s website.
By Mark Van Benschoten, CPA (Dublin office)
Want to read more articles about best practices for business audits? Check these out:
Today, the team at Rea & Associates is celebrating you – our manufacturing leaders who continue to work hard to promote the American values that continue to make our country a great place to live, work and play. We are proud to stand at your side as you educate our citizens about the value of seeking prosperity through a career in the skilled trades; and we are united in the mission to build strong, sustainable communities – both locally and throughout our great nation. The manufacturing industry is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the American economy and we are proud to stand with you as you continue produce and disperse high-quality products, employ countless hard-working men and women, and give your ongoing support to our local and national educational systems, nonprofit organizations and business communities. You, our manufacturing leaders, have helped shape our history; and you will continue to forge our future. Thank you for all that you do. This year, in celebration of Manufacturing Day 2015, we had the opportunity to speak with manufacturing leaders who are doing great things throughout Ohio to find out what they consider to be some of the most challenging aspects of owning a manufacturing business and they had a lot to say about today’s regulatory roadblocks.
Click here to read what other manufacturing leaders facing and why they are calling for regulation reform.
We also thought you might find this slideshow to be a valuable resource.
Take A Detour: Top 4 Detours For Financial Relief – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
We hope you have a happy manufacturing day and a great weekend.
Check out these articles to discover more tips for manufacturing leaders:
For the same reason you wouldn’t expect your eye doctor to repair your tooth, you shouldn’t depend on your annual audit to detect occupational fraud in your business. A financial statement audit validates your financial records and provides reasonable assurance that they are materially accurate. It does not look for fraudulent activity.
Of course, if your auditor comes across suspicious transactions or questionable information, they will certainly share their findings with you. In addition, a good auditor will be able to recommend a fraud detection expert to help you dig deeper into the questionable activity.
So, if your audit won’t detect fraud, how will you know if it’s happening in your organization?
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, only 3 percent of the nearly 1,500 reported cases of occupational fraud were detected by an external audit. According to the study, employee tips continue to be the most common way in which fraudulent activity is reported – usually through a fraud reporting hotline.
Your employees are likely honest, hard-working individuals who would never do anything to jeopardize your business. But until you empower them with a secure, anonymous outlet to tip off this behavior, you will never truly know for sure.
This article was published in the September 2015 issue of Columbus Business First – Ask The Expert.
Are you an entrepreneur who wants to take advantage of the benefits often awarded to small-to-midsize business owners? If so, you may want to consider establishing a limited liability company or an S-corporation. Both options offer several distinct advantages depending on the size and scope of your business and it’s even possible to combine the two – potentially providing you with the best options of both worlds.
Keep in mind that in some circumstances, making the change to an LLC may simply be impractical. Given your particular situation, the switch may have unfavorable consequences. Consider working with a knowledgeable financial advisor and/or business consultant who can assist you with proper planning and who can articulate the advantages and disadvantages of each option. If you are ready for a structure change, be sure to look closely at your short and long term goals and objectives – and be sure to build in some flexibility so that your business can adapt as it matures.
While it may be nearly impossible to find a perfect fit with regard to your specific needs, you may find one option to be better than another when working toward accomplishing your unique financial and tax goals. Read on to learn more about a few organizational structures that might make sense for you.
Want A Better Business? Structure Matters – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Just Passing Through
Regardless of whether you establish an LLC or an S-corp, you will receive the benefits associated with owning a pass through entity, meaning that your company’s income will pass directly through to the business owners – potentially receiving better tax treatment. Furthermore, both options grant owners with some form of limited liability protection.
What To Expect From Your LLC
If you decide to structure your business as an LLC you will likely enjoy the tax efficiencies and operation flexibility this traditional sole proprietorship or general partnership will provide. If you plan to enter into a partnership, each owner will be considered members and will report their portion of the profits and losses to the internal revenue service (IRS) on their personal federal income tax return. Another great benefit LLC members report is the ease of their operation and administration responsibilities. Members also enjoy fewer restrictions when the time comes to distribute earnings through profit-sharing.
Be aware, however, that the liability protection provided by an LLC is typically limited to each member’s personal investment in the company.
What To Expect From Your S-Corp
Corporate income, losses, deductions and credits are passed directly through to owners (or shareholders) of S-corporations. Shareholders of the company are then expected to report the business’s income and losses on their federal tax returns – similar to an LLC. Keep in mind that S-Corps may have no more than 100 shareholders. Furthermore, partnerships, corporations and non-resident aliens are not eligible to own S-corps. Shareholders only consist of individuals and certain trusts and estates.
Perhaps the biggest argument for establishing your business as an S-Corp is the minimal tax liability it provides to shareholders and to the business as a whole. Only the wages paid to owners and employees are considered earned income and subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax for Social Security and Medicare. Other net earnings passing through to shareholders are considered “passive income,” protecting them from the taxes that would otherwise be assessed per the Self Employed Contributions Act (SECA) tax.
But be forewarned, even though S-Corps have some great tax benefits, they also have complex administrative and recordkeeping obligations. All S-Corps are required to maintain formal minutes, bylaws, forms and filings. Additionally, because shareholders earnings are limited to a proportional percentage of capital contributions, profit sharing is difficult to establish. In other words, if you are looking for a relatively low-maintenance option – you may not want to choose to establish an S-Corp.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Wouldn’t it be great if you could structure your business in a way that allows you to enjoy the benefits of minimal tax liability, profit sharing, and fewer administrative and operational responsibilities while curtailing the restrictions posed by establishing the company solely as an LLC or S-Corp? Good news – that option exists!
There are steps you can take to establish your business as an LLC while allowing it to receive the tax treatment of an S-Corp – it just requires you to seek insight from a professional in business and financial matters and a special election with the IRS via Form 2583.
The decisions you make today will impact the future of your business for years to come. Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the pros and cons of LLCs and S-Corps, as well as other options that may be available to address your specific challenges.
By Kyle Stemple, CPA, CGMA (New Philadelphia office)
If you had to guess, how strong do you think your nonprofit organization’s policies are? If you’re unsure or have that gut feeling they’re not strong, you’re certainly not alone. After surveying more than 900 directors of nonprofit organizations, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in collaboration with BoardSource and GuideStar, reported some concerning findings in their 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations.
You may know that it’s important to have good governance when it comes to ensuring the stability and strength of your organization. Without having the right procedures in place to help govern the board of directors and the institution as a whole, the entire organization risks collapse.
While securing sources of revenue and recruiting new members are critical elements of every nonprofit, the real backbone of your organization is your board’s governance. Without the proper structure in place to help shape and reinforce your vision, mission and objectives, your board will not have the tools needed to lead – making your funding and membership objectives less effective.
According to Stanford Graduate School’s survey:
“Over two thirds (69 percent) of nonprofit directors say their organization has faced one or more serious governance-related problems in the past 10 years. Forty percent say they have been unable to meet fundraising targets. Twenty-nine percent have experienced serious financial difficulty. A quarter (23 percent) have asked their executive director to leave or had to respond to unexpected resignation [and] sixteen percent say they have had extreme difficulty attracting qualified new board members.”
Furthermore, the study found that:
- Too many directors lack a deep understanding of the organization
- Most lack formal governance structure and processes
- Many directors are not engaged, do not understand their obligations
While the shortcomings underscored by this report highlight a widespread problem throughout the nonprofit industry, the solution may be as simple as writing (or reevaluating) and implementing a variety of key policies. Enacting proper policies throughout the organization will not only help rectify problems that stem from a weak system of governance, they will help solidify the connection between the directors and their organization while putting a solid structure in place for streamlining the nonprofit’s central objectives, such as fundraising, budgeting and lobbying. Policies can, and should, be in place to help manage the organization’s advisory council, board member orientation, ethics, confidentiality, donor relations, performance, and sponsorship activity – among many others.
Not sure what policies you should have in place? Take a look at this comprehensive Not-for-Profit Policy Checklist. Here are also a few examples of sample policies to give you greater insight into what you should be striving to accomplish.
By Mark Van Benschoten, CPA (Dublin office)
Today, millions of hard-working men and women will celebrate Manufacturing Day across our nation. United in their mission to address common misperceptions about the industry, manufacturers will rally together to take charge of the industry’s public image, address the industry’s skilled labor shortage and promote the ongoing prosperity of manufacturing throughout the U.S.
Manufacturing has always been the backbone of Ohio – and Rea has been proud to support many companies throughout the state. In recognition of Manufacturing Day, here are five ways you, as a manufacturer, can overcome challenges facing your industry.
Be The Leader You Want to Be.
As a seasoned manufacturer, you know your business inside and out – when there is a problem, you provide a solution; when a ball drops, you pick it up. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. If you always find yourself in the middle of daily business operations, you’re unlikely to get out in front of opportunities that could maximize your company’s long-term value. Be the leader your company needs. Stop putting out fires. Instead, make waves.
Tell Your Story, Invest In People.
The manufacturing industry has had its share of problems when it comes to attracting and retaining a talented workforce, but you can alter how people think about a career in manufacturing by simply sharing your own stories and experiences. Unless you take the time to personally promote the manufacturing industry, your would-be employees may incorrectly associate the industry with unprofessional, dead-end jobs in dirty factories. Get out and connect with local vocational schools and other educational entities and community groups to tell your story.
Embrace A Strategy; Minimize Risk.
Every company should have a strategic plan. From financial objectives to operational goals, your strategic plan should provide your workforce with an overview of the company’s operational and growth initiatives. Formal plans should also address the company’s budget and financial forecast. Proper utilization of these plans will help you reap optimal results by providing you with the information needed to make better decisions. Below are initiatives you can include in your strategy to gain greater insight into the industry and to learn how you can better manage your current financial and operational objectives.
- Benchmarking is a proactive way to stay in line with, or ahead of, the competition. It’s important for you to understand how your company stacks up against the competition, as well as gain insight into current trends, future opportunities and potential risks.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to the management of your daily operations. In order for you to deliver results, you and your management team must understand the resources you are working with and how you are affected. Key indicators also provide management with insight into production and can alert leaders to potential areas of risk.
- Get to know your ERP system. Many companies have implemented some type of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in the hopes of streamlining their accounting, production, benchmarking and KPI efforts. Unfortunately, many are unable to actually use the system in the way they would like. You must take control of your ERP system and insist the vendor meet with your team to set up the ERP system in a way that makes sense to your company. An ERP system that is set up properly will provide your company with the data you need to manage your business more effectively.
- Understand your cost structure. For example, understanding what it costs to make, distribute and/or sell each unit of each product line, will give you a better grasp of how much you’re spending on material, labor and overhead, which will better equip you to allocate your efforts and resources. Unfortunately, many managers don’t understand the company’s cost structure, which puts the company at risk of losing money in the long run.
Back-Up For Safety.
Many companies in the manufacturing industry have taken steps to embrace technology and have added hardware and software to help collect data and streamline workflow; however, with the introduction of new programs and equipment comes the introduction of additional risks. Some companies have chosen to back-up their information as a way to avoid losing important data, but if the back-up isn’t tested, there is no guarantee that it will actually work. Unfortunately, some companies lose critical data simply because they fail to test the back-up.
Consider Going Lean.
The manufacturing industry underwent a significant transformation in the 90s with the wide-spread practice of Lean Six Sigma, which helps companies become more efficient and effective by introducing better processes throughout the organization. Many companies, however, have yet to incorporate Lean Six Sigma into their operations. Much has changed over the course of two decades and new uses for Lean Six Sigma have been discovered and applied to additional departments outside of just the manufacturing floor, the service and transactional functions of businesses have really benefited. You should consider Lean Six Sigma as a way to become more efficient and effective in every aspect of their business. Especially while the industry struggles to attract new talent, Lean Six Sigma may be just your company needs when you need to do more with less.
These are just a few examples of challenges facing the manufacturing industry where a trusted advisor can help you navigate through possible solutions. If you own a company in the manufacturing industry or if you want to explore ways to improve your business’s efficiency, effectiveness, profitability and risk management systems, email Rea & Associates. Our team is passionate about helping manufacturers reach new heights, mitigate risks and attract and retain employees.
Author: Kyle Stemple, CPA, Director of Manufacturing Services (New Philadelphia office)
Contrary to popular belief, the manufacturing industry is alive and well. For years, we’ve heard that it’s a “dying” industry. But that’s just not so. In fact, many manufacturers are enjoying higher profitability than 2008 pre-recession levels. However, if your manufacturing business is still young or you’ve hit a rough patch and are starting to see a downward shift in your sales and employment, there’s assistance that you may qualify for to help you get out the rut you’re in.
Being a manufacturer in today’s economy has it opportunities and challenges, and right now you may be flying high on business and running low on people to actually do the work. You may scratch your head daily over this issue and wonder how you can attract the right individuals to do the jobs. Let’s start with the root of the problem—perception. And then I’ll share how some manufacturers are combating this perception. Read the rest of this entry “
When was the last time you talked about taking your business to the next level? If you’ve had this discussion recently, what changes or improvements did you decide on? Were you only thinking about growing your sales? Or did you think about improving your systems and processes? How about your people – do you need to take them to the next level, too?
Making It to the Next Level
In my 31-plus years with this firm, I watched many clients grow from small mom & pop businesses to major employers in their communities. Until the past few years, I really didn’t think much about why some grew and others, well, didn’t.
Many of us learned two fundamentals in college – or in the classroom of life: In order to grow, a business needs solid leadership. And business owners needed to surround themselves with good people.
As I build our firm’s manufacturing client services team I have spent a lot of time reading, listening and asking questions about this idea of the next level. What I have found in my research is that not only do businesses need good people to grow, but you need great systems and you need to stay focused. Read the rest of this entry “
After the ups and downs of the last few years, we should all know that, when it comes to the economy, anything is possible. Some businesses vanished during this downturn, others survived – and some actually flourished! Those that survived and those that flourished had one thing that others did not: an understanding of their product cost. While many of our clients are seeing their sales volumes return to pre-2008 levels, I wonder how many of them truly know what it costs to produce their products. Read the rest of this entry “
According to a report by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, Ohio is one of only two states in the country to earn an A in manufacturing and logistics. And the Center predicts manufacturing to hit all-time highs in 2011 and 2012. Read the rest of this entry “
If you purchase equipment in 2011, you can take advantage of greater depreciation bonus expensing, but you have to plan ahead. Here are some considerations. Read the rest of this entry “
Ask any kid where he or she wants to go on vacation. Most, without hesitation, would say Disney World. (The same goes for a number of adults, too.) Disney World isn’t just an amusement park – it’s a place to escape and enter into a different world. A magical world full of fun and experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime. Read the rest of this entry “
Consumers are depending more and more on mobile devices – so it may make sense to use this technology in your promotional strategy. Read the rest of this entry “
The management philosophy of Lean Six Sigma is centered on improving efficiency and effectiveness in your business. We use the acronym Downtime +A to describe to nine categories of waste that is commonly found in processes: Read the rest of this entry “
In better economic times, banks were the only ones concerned with the financial statements of manufacturers. Today, however, a manufacturer’s customers may also make access to financial information a condition of doing business with them. Read the rest of this entry “
When you start a small business, the most popular organizational forms are the limited liability company (LLC) and the S corporation. There are advantages to both, and you can even combine their features. Here’s what to consider: Read the rest of this entry “
The recent economic downturn forced many companies to reduce their workforce to a level more commensurate to revenue. And now that a few “green shoots” of recovery are beginning to sprout, some of them are considering hiring more workers. However, they’re cautious, and not sure the current uptick will last beyond a few months. Is there another way to address your increasing work load? Read the rest of this entry “
As you work to improve efficiency and effectiveness in your business, are you fully engaging your employees in helping you? If you follow the management concept of Lean Six Sigma, your employees become a key ingredient to achieving world-class results.
Lean is about harnessing the knowledge of your employees to better serve your customers – both internal and external. There is an important human element to Lean enterprises. Your company’s management, as well as your employees, must be fully committed and understand what Lean is all about – because without their buy-in and true leadership, your Lean efforts will fail. You can pick and choose certain “Lean projects,” but without fully embracing Lean, you will not achieve your company’s full potential. Read the rest of this entry “