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Ford Bets Big on Small Cars in Asia

June 26th, 2011 Comments off

Hidden in this article from The Wall Street Journal is that Ford is taking a target costing approach to sell more cars in Asia.

Last year, Ford began building the $7,600 Figo at a plant in Chennai, India. It developed the car by starting with an older version of the Fiesta originally designed for the European market. Ford modified the vehicle and stripped out about $1,000 in cost to sell it at a much lower price in India, Mr. Hinrichs said.

Rather than trying to sell the same model everywhere, Ford is looking at what local markets will bear and what consumers value and finding ways to modify its existing models to fit.

Corporate News: Ford Ramps Asian Car Plans — U.S. Auto Maker Bets Small, Inexpensive Cars Will Fuel Projected 50% Gain in Global Sales by 2020. Jeff Bennett. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jun 17, 2011. pg. B.7

Categories: Blocher Ch 13, Wall Street Journal Tags:

A Sweet Victory – How Krackel took it to Nestle and won

June 23rd, 2011 Comments off

Candy MacroFrom the book, Killing Giants, here is an excerpt of how a small player, Krackel, took on the mighty Nestle Crunch bar and scored a significant blow by being strategic with pricing.  Krackel (owned by Hershey) utilized the vending machine retail channel as a battlefront to take on Crunch since most vending machine operators would only stock one of the two similar candy bars.

Mullen’s proposal to management was to give the vending distributors a 30 percent trade discount on Krackel where other brands hovered in the 5 to 10 percent range. This was understandably a bold move. “I originally took it to my boss and he choked on it. He said we couldn’t afford it. Giving away thirty points was a big deal. I said, ‘Think of the options. If Nestlé tries to match us, the dollar cost to them is huge. That, or we blow Krackel out in every vending machine in the country.’” With nothing to lose — and aiming at the brand that paid for so many of its chief competitor’s other brands — Krackel could play the role of spoiler. “My boss balked at it at first, but the more he looked at it, the more he got this smile on his face. He said this is a pretty evil plot. The big guy can’t win on this and we can’t lose.”

Read more at: A Sweet Victory

Improve Your Sustainable Business With SWOTs

June 8th, 2011 Comments off

We often talk about things in class and fail to relate them to what happens in reality.  Here is a great post about the usefulness of SWOT analysis that highlights the fact that people learn about these things in school and even remember them in great detail, but they often fail to put them in to practice.

When was the last time you did a SWOT analysis for your business? “Uhm, I’m not really sure.

So how did you learn what SWOT analysis is about? “Oh that’s easy, we covered it when I was getting my MBA.”

I have conducted this informal survey on a regular basis, the results are always the same and yet it still surprises me.  If SWOT analysis was important enough to teach in b-school, and important enough for you to remember, why isn’t it important enough for you to implement???  Staying ahead of the curve can be as simple as using the SWOT’s technique.

This particular site focuses on the Triple Bottom Line that I’ve mentioned elsewhere (people, planet, profits) but the lesson is pertinent for areas outside sustainability.

Check it out at the link below:

Improve Your Sustainable Business With SWOTs.

Categories: Blocher Ch 01, Blogs Tags:

General Mills’ Supply Chain Scorecard

June 6th, 2011 Comments off

It seems that sustainability is the hot buzzword these days in marketing and accounting circles.  Locally-based giant, General Mills, is taking the sustainability push beyond its legal borders and using a scorecard to track its suppliers:

General Mills has been pushing on green issues since about 2005, Lynch explained, and is steadily seeking to expand its reach on sustainability. The company began its sustainability initiatives with a focus on its manufacturing plants, simply because that was the area where the company has the most control over its operations.But in tracking its internal and supply-chain emissions, Lynch said that GM has come to a few realizations about where its impacts come from.

“The vast majority of our inputs come in through suppliers who provide value to us here in sorting or milling or roasting or adding flavor and it’s in very few situations that we’re buying directly from farmers,” Lynch said.

Read more at:

 

Target tests “green” refrigerant at 11 stores

May 18th, 2011 Comments off

As mentioned in class, companies are taking a close look at environmentally-friendly initiatives and sustainability.  Management accountants can help with this by identifying opportunities and measuring performance against environmental criteria.  In a local example, Minnesota-based Target was featured in a Star Tribune piece this week as testing a new refrigerant at 11 stores with the idea that it could be expanded to other stores if it is successful.  This new material is supposed to result in fewer leaks and, ultimately, reduce operating costs though I’m sure Target will play up the fact that it is using “green” chemicals and processes as well.

The bottom line is that the gas is a “high temperature” refrigerant less prone to leakage and more energy efficient. It is also used in automobile air conditioners.

“These are very complex systems,” said Target’s Dan Riley of the coolers and freezers in the chain’s “PFresh” food sections. “In each Target store there are many, many miles of coils. At every junction there is an opportunity for a leak. These [existing] gases are very leak prone. They are under pressure.”

In December, Target announced its commitment to sustainability and the GreenChill program fit into the chain’s intention to use resources responsibly and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

Ultimately I don’t think many companies will do things like this if they don’t see a benefit in terms of reduced costs or marketing opportunities, but those opportunities exist and the planet and society can benefit as a result.  Management accountants need to be prepared for this role and to seize the opportunities.

Target tests green chillin’; The retailer is trying a new, more energy-efficient refrigerant in 11 stores around the country as it tries to go green. By David Phelps. Star Tribune. Minneapolis, Minn.: May 15, 2011. pg. D.4

Accounting Jobs Set to Sizzle

May 13th, 2011 Comments off

Even during the recession, the accounting profession has fared rather well.  This trend will continue and certain areas of the profession will be in high demand as companies enter the hiring mode and baby-boomers that have held off retiring leave the workforce.

Jobs in accounting and finance may not be recession proof, but they canopy a range of careers that come pretty close to the mark. That’s what recruiters and experts in the field are saying, and the outlook only gets better going forward.

“Even through the recession, accounting and finance has stayed strong and stable,” says Toby Coffey, director of permanent services for Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Chicago, adding that, while salaries haven’t grown overall in recent years, they maintained their levels. “There are certain skill sets that will be in very high demand coming out of the recession,” he says.

Top Money Makers – INSIGHT Magazine – Spring 2011.

Categories: Acct Profession, Employment, INSIGHT Tags:

Do Social Networks Trump Résumés?

May 13th, 2011 Comments off

Cool Blog Sociale - 10 July 2008 - Creative hire Resume T-shirt by BlackBirdTees A

For finance professionals, a carefully crafted résumé has always been vital to landing a job. Now some experts say that social-networking Websites have become just as important to a successful job search, if not more so. 

In the last 18 months or so, I’ve run across a lot of recruiting and job-seeking on sites liked LinkedIn.  This trend seems likely to continue as electronic tools take the place of paper-based documents even in the relatively traditional area of employment.  If online dating can be mainstream it makes sense that the job market would move that direction as well.

Do Social Networks Trump Résumés? – Careers – CFO.com.

How the CPA Exam Is Scored

April 27th, 2011 Comments off

Those of you sitting for the CPA Exam in the near future will find it interesting to read how the CPA Exam is scored.  In this Journal of Accountancy article, you’ll learn more than you ever thought possible.  I know I did!

Read more at: How the CPA Exam Is Scored.

Categories: CPA Exam, Journal of Accountancy Tags:

Is Apple the new Nokia?

April 25th, 2011 Comments off

Given the rapid pace of change in the mobile phone industry, we have data from a couple decades that incorporates the rise and fall of several companies.  It seems that the top-dog never remains so for very long because they lose focus, intensity, etc. and rival firms knock them off their perch (only to be knocked off themselves in a matter of years).  Therefore, it is worth pondering if Apple will be the next firm to get knocked down.

Not so long ago, Nokia was the disrupter. In 1994, the dominant global provider of mobile handsets was Motorola: its shares were trading at an all-time high and it was seen as an outstanding innovator and even described by a senior consultant at A. T. Kearney as “the best-managed company in the world” — not so different from Apple today.

Read more: Why Nokia’s Collapse Should Scare Apple – Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Categories: Harvard Business Review Tags: ,

Wal-Mart sharpens low-price focus

April 11th, 2011 Comments off

Here is a piece that looks at Walmart’s efforts to move back the clock to a time when they were more closely aligned with Sam Walton’s vision.

Powerful snow blowers seem like a key item to keep in stock in Minneapolis, where residents need to uncover their driveways and sidewalks from about 50 inches of snow each winter.

But a couple of years ago, Wal-Mart decided to take some snow blowers, ice-fishing gear and other goods out of its Minneapolis-area stores.

Eliminating that merchandise was part of an effort the world’s largest retailer kicked off in late 2008 to get rid of items nationwide that were not top sellers and promote deep discounts on other more popular goods.

 

Wal-Mart sharpens low-price focus | Reuters.