Techniques Used By An Advertising Agency In Modern Times

In the modern world, with the rapid growth in technology, brands, lifestyle, etc., it is very important to sell and promote the products and services of your business effectively. The traditional methods of television, radio and newspaper are just not enough, anymore. The creative minds of modern day advertisers have to be quick, smart and efficient. They have created new ways and have gone above and beyond the old traditional ways. These days, any advertising agency provides all the services and uses specialized techniques, to promote your brand adequately.Some of the latest techniques used by these advertisers are as follows:Consumer Advertising – This technique is informative as well as persuasive in nature. It is used by a full service advertising agency, to advertise the FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods). This technique is used in every medium like T.V., radio, newspaper, internet, etc. Consumer ads are done to pull in the customers who buy products like soaps, shampoos, biscuits etc., on a regular basis.Industrial Advertising – The manufactures and distributors of industrial products demand for this technique to target industrial buyers. Products like plant and machinery, fabricated machine parts, raw materials, etc., can be promoted. Industrial advertisements are seen on trade publications, and attracts factory owners and businessmen, on a large scale.Financial Advertising – This technique is used by the financial industry to advertise financial products like bank loans, mutual funds, shares, etc. These type of advertisements are seen in newspapers, magazines, theaters, and now-a-days, outdoor advertising is also used. Financial advertisements are not only issued by the advertisers, but also by the banks. This type of advertising educates the audience on any financial matters.Political Advertising – This technique is used by politicians to gain votes. It is specially done on mass media, and generally targets the common man. It is a new trend of gaining votes by the political parties. The demand for this political advertisements are high, especially around the time of elections. This technique is a challenge to agencies, as they have to think of an ad campaign carefully, keeping in mind the sentiments of the people of that area.These are the various techniques in which the product is advertised by any creative ad agency. There are many other techniques to advertise products, according to the category that they belong to, like lifestyle, B2B, classifieds, retails, etc. These techniques are used in the present competitive markets to target the appropriate audience and increase the sales of products and services for your business.

Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Background

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.

Conclusion

It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.

How To Tell If Your Personal Finances Are Out Of Control

Struggling under a mountain of debt is no fun, but it is a way of life for many who do not keep their personal finances in balance. Some people ignore warning signs that they really need to regain control of their finances until it is too late. Here are some quick ways to tell if you are in danger of being buried by debt, along with some tips on how to take charge of your money problems.Have you ever taken a cash advance on one credit card in order to make the minimum monthly payment on another card? This means that your debt load is way too high, and you need to find a way to bring it down fast and restore order to your personal finances. Do whatever is required, whether it is taking a part time job or just limiting spending to bare essentials until your financial picture improves. Commit to paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first, if possible, and the ones with the lowest balances if it is not. Set a specific time limit, such as six months, to reach your goal, and follow through on your commitment to control your finances. And do not add any new charges unless it is literally a matter of life and death.Have you ever taken a cash advance on a credit card to make a bank deposit so that a check won’t bounce? This is similar to using one card to pay another, only worse. This means your finances are so out of control that it is critical you find a solution. Perhaps you have not been reconciling your checking account regularly. If not, start immediately. If returned checks are a problem, start using cash to pay for living expenses until you can regain control over your personal finances. Make all of your regular payments, and then take whatever is left in cash. Divide it up according to how long it has to last and place it in envelopes which are labeled with the purpose, such as lunches or groceries. Pay for purchases out of the appropriate envelope. Some people like this method so well that they continue to use it long after they have resolved any issues with their personal finances.Do you have to check the available balance on your credit card before you can go to the grocery store? Using credit cards for living expenses is fine for your personal finances if you want the convenience and can pay off the balance each month. However, many people who are struggling with their personal finances frequently charge things like groceries and gasoline, and then make only the minimum payments. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to your personal finances. You are increasing your debt load for items that are long gone before you even receive your statement, much less pay the bill.Is it a struggle to just pay the minimum amounts due on your credit cards each month? This is creating a personal finance scenario where you will probably never be out of debt. Stop using your cards until you have reduced your balances and regained control over your personal finances, or find a way to earn extra income and dedicate those earnings to paying off your debt more quickly.Some of you may have found the personal finance scenarios described humorous. Sadly, these are actually circumstances that happen more often than many want to admit. As a nation, we have never been more deeply in debt nor maintained so little control of our personal finances. But the good news is that you can remedy your situation with your personal finances and debt. It won’t happen overnight, but if you are willing to work at it, you can regain control over your personal finances and eliminate your burden of debt.