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Archive for the ‘Cost Reduction’ Category

BI Publisher Provides Our Organization Extreme Agility

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

A year and a half ago, our company embarked on a project to run Oracle E-business R12. Part of that process included a manufacturing migration from our legacy systems, and the other part included a migration of financial modules from Oracle 11i.  Included in the 11i financial modules was Accounts Payable, thus our Payment process needed to be migrated to R12.  One of my responsibilities was to create the payment output for the R12 system.  Payments in Oracle R12 are rendered with BI Publisher, an Oracle tool I became very skilled with while working on the AP project.  Although limited, BI Publisher has to be one of the most powerful technologies Oracle provides and has allowed our IT organization to become more agile.

From what I heard, it took the previous business analyst two years to get a check printed in the 11i production system, starting at the beginning of that project.  The R12 Payment processing seemed like a daunting task.  But I was up for the challenge and eager to enhance my skill set.

Within the first day of working on the payment output, I was able to get a check printed out of our test system.  Two weeks later I had a check ready to send to our bank for validation.

Although my manager was impressed, he still had some doubts. I have a feeling he was thinking around the lines of, “this is too good to be true; how can someone get a check ready for approval so fast, when took so long previously?” Whatever his thinking was, the bank validation had the ability to halt my swift progress right in its tracks.

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Hot Water Tank Insulation Proposal

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Below is a proposal I wrote to my Condominium Association Board and Members January 27th 2011.


Board and fellow condominium association members,

The following is a proposal for insulating our building’s hot water tanks.

Summary

Insulating the two hot water storage tanks and pipes will cost $3,200, provide more than $1,371 annual energy savings, and provide an annual return on investment of more than 43% (less than 2.33 year payback period).  I urge the Board and fellow condominium association members to support this investment; it is rare to find an annual ROI of more than 43%.

Assumptions

  • Two AO Smith T-200 water tanks. (Confirmed)
  • Boiler requires well ventilated room .
    • Ventilation required to constitute combustion in water heater.
    • Exposure to external temperatures year round. (See Footnote 1)
  • Gas Prices from Peoples Gas website (See Footnote 2)
  • Pipe insulation was included in the cost, but not in energy savings.
  • Hot water temperature is 130° F (Temperature measured at faucet)
  • R Value of insulation is 10.00
  • R Value of tank wall is 0.60

Estimate

Calculations
Water Tank Insulation Proposal


Footnotes

  1. Temperature data: http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USIL0225
  2. I made a request to the Board for a copy of the utility bills on August 23rd 2010.  I did not receive a response, therefore, I used cost data based from the Peoples Gas website: http://www.peoplesgasdelivery.com/business/gas_rates.aspx#availableRates

The Power of Every Day Low Prices

February 25, 2010 5 comments

Many of my friends and colleagues know I am a huge proponent of Wal-Mart’s and their Every Day Low Prices.  I frequently have lively discussions about my love for Wal-Mart and their low prices.  In mid December, I came across an article that discussed Chicagoland’s grocery chains and their battle for shoppers.  The article got me thinking about how powerful Wal-Mart’s “Every Day Low Price” strategy is.  Two lessons can be learned from the Every Day Low Price strategy: consumers don’t shop where they are unhappy, and innovative companies are profitable.

Pricing Strategies

Grocery stores primarily use one of two different pricing strategies: High-Low, or Every Day Low Prices (EDLPs).

Stores with “high-low” pricing strategies price some products at low prices, while having other products at higher prices.   These stores use promotional sales to lure shoppers into the store in order to persuade them to buy other high priced high margin items by utilizing other marketing techniques.

The competing grocery pricing strategy is “Every Day Low Prices”, or what I like to call, EDLPs.  Wal-Mart popularized this strategy and uses it to this day.  Prices are set low, and stay low.  The only time a price changes is when supply or demand changes, or when the retailer forces the supplier to innovate.  Furthermore, if prices do change, they usually go down.  Remember Wal-Mart’s “falling prices” marketing campaign? EDLPs have helped Wal-Mart become the world’s largest retailer.

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The Cost of Promotional Sales

February 4, 2010 1 comment

Grocery retailers frequently use promotional sales to lure customers into stores.  Retailers hope customers will purchase higher margin products while they shop for the promoted items.  Chicago grocers Jewel-Osco, subsidiary of SUPERVALU, and Dominick’s, subsidiary of Safeway, both follow use this marketing strategy, changing promotions twice a week.  The promotional sales may increase customer traffic, but they may also lead to the demise of the store.  I suspect, retailers that use promotional sales, on every day products sold year round, increase the cost of doing business and decrease supply chain efficiency.

Used by many grocers, promotional sales are the activities, materials, devices, and techniques used in the advertising and marketing of products.  I separated their cost into two different categories; direct costs and indirect costs.  I see the money spent on the processes and material to implement the promotional sale as direct costs, and the money lost due of the effects of the promotional sales are considered indirect costs.  From my point of view, both of these costs are significantly high, high enough to possibly outweigh any benefit of the promotional sales.  If I were managing a retail grocery operation, these are the items I would consider when deciding whether or not to continue utilizing promotional sales.

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Norton’s $140 Free Support

January 8, 2010 5 comments

One of my client’s computers recently got infected by several viruses.  She attempted to solve the problem by installing Norton Antivirus 2010.  After the instillation, her computer would not allow her to logon, so she gave me a call.  After doing some research, being unable to solve the problem, which was likely caused by the instillation of Norton Antivirus, I called Norton to receive the “Free Support” that came with the software.   The phone support reminded me of my recent post on foreign call centers; Norton’s support was unbelievable and unacceptable.  Explaining my interactions with Norton’s support team will illustrate how Norton’s “low cost” foreign call centers destroy consumer trust, damage Norton’s brand, and ultimately reduced the company’s profitability.

Before I elaborate on Norton’s phone support, I want to point you to how I solved the problem.  You can see the solution on how to fix a logon logoff loop on a previous post of mine.

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Foreign Call Center’s Inherently High Cost

September 26, 2009 3 comments
Call Center

© H3C Technologies Co., Limited

Last month, I spent a significant amount of time talking with representatives at two different RCN call centers; one in the Philippines, and one in the United States.  I was trying to get their new invalid URL request hijacking service, also known as PoxFire, removed from my account.  The situation spurred me to analyze why call centers are located in foreign countries.  I also wanted to review the factors that should be considered when making the decision to export a domestic call center.  After coming up with a structure that can be used to determine if a call center could successfully be exported, I applied my theory to RCN’s business model.  Finally, I determined if my interactions with RCN supported my theory.

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Fixed: RCN Hijacking Mistyped URLs

August 10, 2009 11 comments

RCN logo

Late last week, I was having a problem with RCN hijacking my mistyped URLs.  I was finally able to get them fixed!  This post has two different distinct topics; the situation and how the problem was solved.  In the near future I will post a new entry analyzing RCN’s business practices.

*Update – December 31st 2009*
I added a symptoms section and two guaranteed solutions at the bottom of this post.

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