December 2010

Mumbai conference wrap-up: Humor is international. 

I admit that as the conference in India was approaching I was wondering how my sense of humor – spontaneous, observational, sarcastic without being truly mean-spirited – would be accepted by the attendees. My sense of humor plays out very well to both American and British audiences - I may have somewhat perfected a blended balance between the two styles – and I regularly use humor during presentations to keep the audience’s attention; it’s not that I feel that my material can’t hold their interest itself but I make sure the delivery maintains its professionalism sans boredom.

My keynote presentation was the first one on the first morning of the first day. I delivered it just as I had numerous times before and the audience sat quite stone-faced even through the humorous bits. Not too far into my presentation I was thinking that it was going to be a long conference. 

I finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions. One of the first questions to be asked was prefaced by the attendee with what almost amounted to an apology: the gentleman effectively stated that business practices in India were ripe with fraud, known for fraud, and that India was behind the times in addressing fraud, and it was of little wonder that India was not viewed as a peer among other global leaders such as the United States despite its status as an emerging economy. 

As I listened I quickly realized that it was very likely the audience perceived me to be an arrogant American who came half-way around the world to tell the attendees how things are done – and to perfection – in the United States where fraud had been all but completely eradicated, and how less-advanced nations like India need to do better.

Having a revelation and seizing the moment, I prefaced my answer by first leveling the playing field: I literally told the audience that the United States had not just perfected fraud – likely inventing many of the ones plaguing the world today – but did it bigger and more extensively than anyone else in the world. I continued that the monetary impact of frauds in the US is measured in billions, not merely millions, and that emerging countries like India were merely rank amateurs when compared to the professional fraudsters we have in the US. 

The audience burst out loud with laughter and I knew and that moment we had connected with each other. 

Throughout the rest of the conference I enjoyed chatting with the attendees and other speakers on personal and professional matters, joking back-and-forth as freely as I would with people I’ve known for a whole lot longer period of time. The attendees knew that I was there to share my experiences and information to help them do better and not to tell them how good or bad a job had been done to-date in fighting fraud. 

I truly believe that my success & longevity stems from the ability to communicate, knowing when to listen and when to speak, and how to do both effectively. Messages can get mixed as they pass through organizational layers and often this is a root cause of the chaos I get involved in correcting. 

Poor or otherwise ineffective communication results in disconnects that can equate to wasteful activities and lost opportunities. If you know of a company – maybe your own – that’s having troubles understanding the different meanings of what everyone is individually saying then they should contact me. I’ll correct the communication conundrum and get everyone speaking the same language.  

November 2010

Mumbai conference overview.

One of the very first questions people ask me about traveling to India is how long the airline flight(s) were. I traveled from Miami to Mumbai connecting through Heathrow. The flights from both Miami to London and London to Mumbai were essentially nine hours each. Going over I had a 4.5 hour layover at Heathrow, and returning the layover was about 2.5 hours. The next question I’m asked is what the time differences were: London is 5 hours ahead of Miami, and Mumbai is 4.5 hours ahead of London.

The conference was attended by over 50 delegates from public companies, private corporations, and various government agencies. Typical titles included Manager, Director, Chief Security Officer, Chief Vigilance Officer, and Vice President. Some of the additional presenters represented the Mumbai offices of Kroll, Deloitte, and KPMG, and others were local experts in network security, integration software, and warehouse design and operations. 

From what I was told the role of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) is a relatively newly created position as mandated by recent laws in India to reduce fraudulent behavior in the public sector. Acting somewhat as hybrid mix of an internal audit and an internal affairs department, the CVO’s office provides recourse for reporting suspected illicit activities perpetrated by employees of the agency and performs due diligence to ensure the agency’s operations conform to what those of us in the United States might consider “good governance” practices. 

I provided some opening comments and the keynote address, Detecting & Reducing Supply Chain Fraud, plus two other presentations: Good Governance For Supply Chain Operations and Creating & Communicating Effective Vendor Compliance Guidelines. The points made by the other speakers during their presentations only served to emphasis key aspects of the information I imparted. Not only were the attendees interested in what I had to say but the other speakers were very up-front about their interest in my supply chain fraud business model. I enjoyed sharing insights and exchanging information and ideas with the attendees and other speakers. 

English was the language used by all speakers and attendees though I confess some of the accents were a little difficult to cut through at times. Fortunately I watch a lot of BBC America and have enjoyed active involvement over the past six years in the British-American Chamber of Commerce here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida area so I was able to navigate even the heavier accents without much trouble as I already had some good practice at it. 

The two questions nearly everyone I met in Mumbai asked me was whether this was my first trip to India (“yes”) and if I liked Indian food (“yes” again). I’ve even found recently an unusual craving for curry now and again. 

Takeaways from this experience are that the fight against fraud is truly global and that we can all learn from each other in shoring up our defenses and creating better mousetraps to catch an ever-evolving breed of elusive mice. The attendees of this conference are proof that India– as an emerging economy – knows it cannot succeed in being a truly global player unless a firm stance is taken to root out fraud at the local level first. The fact that there are significant construction projects all over Mumbai is a tell-tale sign that just in this city alone heavy investments are being made in infrastructure to support the coming economic growth. The people I met are on the front lines and, from what I heard, are already making impressive headway in the fight against fraud.

If you know of an organization – including your own – that is suffering from behavior which is contradictory to its well-being, the time to act is sooner rather than later. In tough economic times organizations who succumb to the ill-effects of fraud are less likely to survive.

October 2010

It’s official: Katzscan has gone global.

Essentially this conference was about me and my supply chain fraud business model. 

The conference organizers in Mumbai, India– who also sponsored my trip – found my supply chain fraud web site several months ago and contacted me. They were fascinated by the way I presented the topic and framed the business model, and they wanted to promote a conference on it, asking if I would attend and provide the keynote speech plus other presentations. Naturally I said yes. 

Without sounding egotistical the way in which this all came about stands as a testament to how I’ve played many of the cards I’ve been dealt, (though perhaps I should stick to my marketing tag line and say it’s more analogous to how I’ve connected some disconnected dots), and built this business model which compliments my core consulting specialties. 

  1. While providing free Word® and Excel® training to unemployed professionals in Katzscan’s first year I met someone who opened his own private investigations company and asked me to collaborate on cases involving white collar & computer-related crimes.  At my suggestion it was agreed that my involvement as a private investigator would be better than (simply as) an external computer consultant; I still hold an active Florida Private Investigator’s license. (The free training to unemployed professionals was a promotional idea by a former co-worker and it did succeed in securing a 2-year client.) 
  2. Not long after the Enron and WorldCom meltdowns I studied religiously – reading the 2200 page manual twice – to achieve my Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential. It was during this time that I conceptualized my supply chain fraud business model and purchased what I have referred to as my “subject-matter” domain names, jotting down notes on the framework of what would become the web site which I have since redesigned to its current format and color scheme. 
  3. Realizing that my business model needed a foundation rooted in better business practices I achieved my corporate governance certification, applying aspects of Sarbanes-Oxley (“SOX”) compliance frameworks COSO and COBIT to detecting & reducing supply chain fraud.
  4. To enhance my fraud-fighting credentials I applied for and received my Certified Fraud Specialist (CFS) credential.
  5. I set out to promote the business model through local & national speaking & writing, all of which can be found on my supply chain fraud web site. 

Not a bad bit of work for someone who started out his career programming business software applications, making the daily lives of his users a little bit better through technology. 

As Katzscan closes in on a full 15 years I am continually aware of – and I confess somewhat amazed by – the personal & professional evolution that has taken place in both me and my company. Certainly receiving recognition from half-way around the world is a big feather in the cap and one that I am very proud of. 

Next month I’ll write about the conference itself and by then should have a collection of photos well organized and published to show you. 

If you know of a company who is struggling to find their identity, who has stumbled off course, who is troubled by technology, who needs guidance to refocus and leadership to grow, please kindly provide them my contact information. My clients benefit from the same creativity and tenacity that I apply to my own company to help them be successful. In times of great economic upheaval it takes a special set of skills to survive and thrive, and I think I continue to prove I’ve got what it takes. 

September 2010

Why do companies need consultants? 

Over the years I’ve come to realize that clients rely on my consulting services for two reasons:

(1) Because they don’t have the personnel 

(2) Because they don’t have the personnel 

The difference between the two reasons is that my clients either don’t have enough warm bodies to throw at a problem and they need an extra one in the interim or they don’t have the specialized talents and expertise I bring to the table. 

Those are two pretty good reasons for organizations to use a consultant especially one who is willing to transfer knowledge like I am, enabling my clients to take ownership of the projects we work on together. For short-term projects of a few weeks or a few months it usually does not make sense to hire an employee when using a consultant is actually a more effective and efficient answer. 

I’ve taken great strides to distinguish myself from other consultants by not offering commodity products and services. It can be a double-edged sword at times. Let’s face it: my bag of mixed tricks is somewhat specialized and can be a little difficult to explain. My best “elevator pitch” is likely reliant on the elevator getting stuck between floors for an hour or so. 

But there’s third reason – and a really good one at that I think – to use a consultant. And this aspect is what can even separate specialists from being viewed as valued advisors:  a good consultant is professionally “out there”. 

Aside from reading the daily newspaper and approximately one dozen various business (supply chain, manufacturing, technology, financial, fraud, security, etc.) publications each month I attend conferences and informational networking events. I’ve relayed information I’ve acquired to my clients when I’ve learned something I think they should know. I’ve brought ideas and best practices to the table from other industries as I’ve helped my clients with organizational issues such as business process improvements, technology acquisition and implementation, and staff realignment. 

Absorbing and utilizing all this information has helped me grow Katzscan beyond being just a specialized technology (barcode scanning, Electronic Data Interchange, Enterprise Resource Planning systems) consulting company and into one that advises senior management on business strategies and better operational processes. Sure it still helps to be able to “geek it up” when I need to for data parsing, analytical reporting, and acclimation to whatever ERP software my client happens to be using. (I never know what the next ERP system I encounter will be but it doesn’t take long before I’m well up-to-speed on it.) But I’ve long known that, like any other business, Katzscan needed to grow and change to survive and thrive. 

The two dimensions of technical skill and business savvy certainly help Katzscan to stand out from the crowd, but what really helps to distinguish Katzscan from the pack is the added dimension of education. I’d advise anyone considering becoming any type of consultant to ensure they are and continue to be well-read and well-informed about their industry, other industries, and business in general. 

If you know of organizations that could benefit from some multi-dimensional talent please provide them my contact information. It may be a while before I can master the one more dimension needed to be able to appear before their problems actually start, but – with pun fully intended – I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.   So until then the best course of action is to have them call upon me sooner rather than later. 

August 2010

Checks and balances. 

Within a few hours of my July 2010 newsletter going out a colleague sent me an e-mail noting several grammatical and spelling errors. 

To all my newsletter readers you have my sincerest apologies for sending out something other than first-quality workmanship. I hold myself to what many could consider unreasonably high standards and this really bothers me. 

I try to stay one or two months ahead of my newsletter writing as I don’t often know how my schedule will come together. I wrote my July newsletter during a somewhat stressful time and it appears the events got the better of me. I suffered a pre-World Cup soccer injury on March 1st which resulted in my left knee ACL breaking pretty much in the middle. (Ah ha! Now I know what that “popping” sound was!) Through some friends I found my way to “the” surgeon in South Florida who specializes in this sports injury and I had ligament replacement surgery on April 22nd. From the time of the injury to the time of the surgery I was in progressively increasing pain and under a lot of pressure – especially once the injury was diagnosed – to take care of personal and business continuity. I never had surgery before and did not know how I would handle the anesthesia, how much pain I would be in, how long I would be incapacitated, what the physical therapy would be like, etc. Fortunately I felt better after the surgery than I did before and suffered no pain even the day of the surgery as all the numbness was dissipating. It took a few days for the anesthesia to work its way out of my system but all in all I made it through okay. I learned to hobble around on crutches though I hardly needed them. Even the one month I spent in the leg brace seems an almost forgotten memory by now. I’ve been progressing very well through physical therapy – even to the point of enjoying the advanced workout routine – and I am well on my way to recovery. 

I had confidence in the newsletter content but should have been more careful about verifying the grammar and noting misspelled words. The lesson learned here, aside from no more soccer (I’ll stick to my fencing), is: trust but verify.

While the errors in my July newsletter were innocuous not all quality defects are so innocent. Consider the consequences of tainted and unsafe consumer products in that injury and death have been reported due to quality failures in both the design and manufacturing processes. As I repeatedly state during my presentations on supply chain topics (fraud, good governance, and vendor compliance), just because a company outsources their (manufacturing) operations it does not equate to an outsourcing of responsibility. A contract between two collaborators does not absolve the buyer from the seller’s quality failures. Trusted supply chain relationships truly work when both parties share information and validate the other’s results. It is in these intricately intertwined collaborations where one partner can help the other partner maintain quality and continuity during stressful times. 

True supply chain collaboration involves openness, trust, and sharing of sensitive to the point of confidential information. But once the trust hurdle has been conquered supply chain relationships – likely like our own personal relationships – can reach new levels of achievement and accomplishment. 

With only myself to rely on I think I turn out a pretty good quality product month after month, but as my own harshest critic I do expect perfection time and time again; I’ll certainly remember the errors of my July 2010 newsletter for a long time to come. We have to be able to fix our mistakes and move onwards & upwards without apprehension but with some caution. 

Organizations who want to truly attain greater efficiencies in their supply chain operations and create stronger relationships with their suppliers and customers must start with a dedication to quality throughout the enterprise. As Katzscan gets closer to its 15-year anniversary I know that the longevity is a direct result of my dedication to quality. I’ll continue to keep my bar set high and strive for 100% perfection even it if means suffering some bumps and bruises along the way. 

Just no more surgeries!  

July 2010

When the C-level loses control.

I recently saw the 1949 movie The Fountainhead based on the book of the same name by Ayn Rand. The story is centered on the character Howard Roark (played by Gary Cooper), an architect who refuses to compromise his radical designs – and thus he believes his integrity – to please the mediocre tastes of the masses. Eventually he is accepted by out-of-the-box thinkers who appreciate his unique style and ask him to design their buildings. 

There is another story within: it is that of Gail Wynard (played by Raymond Massey) who is the owner of The Banner newspaper. Wynard’s character is likely typical for the time: having been born into poverty he struggled on the streets and built himself a business empire where he had seemingly unlimited wealth and power, especially the power of his presses. The architectural critic at The Banner is Ellsworth M. Toohey (played by Robert Douglas), a rather slimy character who’s own self-interests become more and more apparent as he plays Wynard, Roark, and Dominique Facon (played by Patricia Neal) against each other for his own nefarious purposes. 

Eventually Toohey acquires such significant power for himself at The Banner that Wynard must capitulate to the board of directors and rehire him or face the complete meltdown of the newspaper. Toohey was able to build his power base by gaining the loyalty of the writing and editorial staff while Wynard was enjoying the riches of his success and through his manipulations of the other main characters. Eventually Wynard realizes that if he once had real power he no longer did, having lost it by loosing focus on what was necessary if not important at his business including, in my own analysis, the realization he should have fired Toohey a long time ago. This hits him especially hard as The Banner attempts to take on an unpopular issue – supporting Roark – which causes him to loose virtually all his readership and advertising revenue.

The storyline of how Toohey undermines Wynard to the near complete destruction of The Banner reminds me of some of the companies I’ve visited over the years. In conversations with company owners I find that they are suffering terribly because they’ve lost control of their business to key employees who have built their own power bases. These modern-day fiefdoms are not represented by lands or masses of workers per se, but rather by the control of information and knowledge of how things work. They surround themselves with workers who are kept in the dark and may actually not be qualified for the jobs they are handling, but the key employee knows not to hire a subordinate worker who might discover what’s truly going on. 

Business leaders must be able to trust their directors, managers and supervisors because they can’t be involved in the minute details of every aspect of running a business. But when these same leaders fail to create a culture of transparency they loose the ability to control their business and adapt to changes with more agility. Sadly some of these executives are fearful of firing these same employees because they don’t believe that anyone else can figure out what’s going on and that the loss of knowledge would be greatly detrimental to the business. I counter that while things might be difficult for a while they will get straightened out and the business will be better for it, and while the leaders agree they typically lack the willpower to execute what they know needs to be done. The business continues to suffer and heartbeat becomes fainter with each passing day. 

If your organization – or one that you know of – is suffering from employees who have built walls around their functional areas that is a business that needs help, and fast. It’s very likely that these rogue employees are negatively affecting other areas of the business too. The cleanup of these functional areas can expose fraud and inefficiencies that are wasting money and hampering growth. It will take the fortitude of the Howard Roark character to make the tough decisions necessary to remove the problematic people but the entire company will be better for it in the end. If you need someone to lead the charge, jump into the trenches, dig for the details, and master the recovery please give me a call. 



June 2010

EDI success story.

After I had finished speaking about supply chain vendor compliance and the two key technologies involved – barcode labeling and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) – an attendee raised his hand and wanted to share with the rest of the audience his own experiences about vendor compliance. 

The gentleman was the owner of a company that either manufactured or distributed (I can’t quite remember which) special electronic components. He had resisted implementing EDI for years despite requests from one of his largest and most important customers. He finally relented and agreed to become EDI-capable with this customer. He informed the group that to his surprise his business with that customer increased by over 30% after implementing EDI. Well – we were all quite impressed with that statistic. The company owner then stated that he knows his competitor’s business decreased by over 30% with that customer during the same time period. Again – we were all wowed by the statistic but were collectively curious as to how he could know his competitor lost such a hefty amount of business which it would seem was transferred to his company by the shared customer. “That’s easy”, the company owner said “because we’re the only two companies around that supply the particular electronic component the customer is buying.”

What the above story shows is the misconception that there is no relationship between sales and supply chain disruptive behavior. In tough economic times customers have less and less tolerance for disruptive suppliers because each disruption adds costs. As such, customer organizations are demanding more and more that suppliers take steps to ease their financial burdens through supply chain efficiencies. Pushing the customer’s problems on the supplier network may seem unfair to the untrained eye but it is exactly through better supply chain collaboration that business grows and becomes consistent, enabling suppliers to weather tough economic times even better. 

Suppliers may not understand the “big deal” about their customers sending paper purchase orders, processing paper invoices, or creating paper checks, but all this paperwork must be handled by a person rather than by computer and thus represents unnecessary costs to the customer organization. Add the desire to be more cost-conscious with the movement towards “green” and reducing paper and the disruptive supplier gives the perception of being even more problematic to deal with. Suppliers who provide commodity goods are even more at risk and vulnerable to loosing business to competitors who implement the necessary supply chain technologies and more closely electronically interweave their business relationships with those of their customers.

There’s still a lot of resistance out there by supplier organizations to implementing such tried-and-true technologies like barcode scanning and EDI despite having customers demand their use. Some supplier companies would rather take the financial penalties for non-compliance rather than implement the solution. Adding insult to injury is the failure of management at the supplier organization to understand that they can derive internal benefits and cost-savings from implementing these technologies: it just takes a little bit of vision and dedication to be better. If you’re going to print barcode labels for a customer why not use them for internal scanning for inventory control and pick-and-pack verification? EDI is a great way to reduce if not fully eliminate data entry costs & errors and shorten the payment cycle from customers. 

If your organization – or one that you know of – is a supplier of goods in any number of different verticals (retail, automotive, healthcare, marine, pharmaceutical, publishing, electronics, etc.) and is struggling to grow existing customer relationships and add new customers, it might be because of resistant attitudes and disruptive behaviors. Before more competitors take a bite out of your business, give me a call and ask for help. 

May 2010

Business re-branding stories.

I thought I’d share two very recent stories about how I re-branded business models. Like web site development this is not a talent that I publicize – I know Katzscan’s business model is a little overwhelming already and I’m not formally a marketing company – but it is a skill certainly worth noting. 

I met Karrie Klimas in December 2009 at a business networking event. Karrie was recently laid off from her job and decided to pursue full-time her PartyLite® business which she had been running part-time since 2004. Karrie is a mega-motivated individual with an endless supply of energy. She is absolutely dedicated to making this work as a full-time profession and securing financial freedom in the near future. In conversation I told Karrie I thought she needed to upgrade her image from always being the “Candle Lady” to something bigger & broader, and as I learned more about her business I suggested that she was really a Gift Problem Solver. I checked and sure enough the web site name GiftProblemSolver.com was available. At my suggestion Karrie purchased the domain; I helped her develop her web site and trained her on how to maintain the site herself. Karrie wants to be able to independently control as much of her business as possible and I applaud her for this. With matching business cards Karrie has now elevated her image and she tells me that it’s been very well received when networking. She’s adding new product lines beyond PartyLite® to truly become THE go-to person when people need help solving the problem of what gift to give. 

To view Karrie’s web site please go to www.GiftProblemSolver.com 

I was introduced to Dr. Joe Smith approximately three years ago through a former co-worker at the company before I started Katzscan. During this time Joe has kept in touch with me as he has progressed in the development of a revolutionary advanced wound care bandage that incorporates his patented Impact Dome® technology which itself has a multitude of applications. Joe is now at the point where he’s in need of my services across several areas. In one of the recent conference calls with Joe and his management team I discussed the current company web site which was simply unprofessional looking and lacked informative content. Focusing on the bandage line I informed the group that we needed to brand each of the product lines separately with their own web site domains, after which we’ll link them all under one redesigned corporate web site. In listening to the conversations about the bandage line I hit upon one key aspect which is the major difference between Joe’s design and traditional rectangular & circular bandages: Joe’s design allows the bandage to stick better. I quickly checked and the domain name WeStickBetter.com was available. At my suggestion Joe purchased this domain name and I developed the web site from there. Now as Joe attends conferences, meetings with retail store buyers, and medical product distributors the key advantage of the bandage design will be stuck (pun intended!) in the minds of the audience. 

To learn more about Joe’s revolutionary bandage design and the Impact Dome® technology please go to www.WeStickBetter.com 

Though my background has been rooted in technology I prefer to think of Katzscan first-and-foremost as a consulting firm that solves business problems via the right use of technology. Effective communication is not only important for existing customers but critical in the drive to acquire new customers. A business has to highlight its uniqueness especially when offering a commodity product or service. Sometimes just the right creative tweak is what can tip the scale and get a consumer to buy from you rather than your competition. I know that the Katzscan name is always well-received as creative & clever and people remember me years after we meet because of it. If you know of a business that needs a proverbial fresh coat of paint on its image to retain current customers and help acquire new ones, let me know. 

April 2010

No, I don’t really do web sites … other than my own. 

I can think of quite a few questions I’m asked on a regular basis but let’s keep this professional and not personal!  ;-) 

One question I’m routinely asked when I tell people what I do is: “Do you do web sites?”

The answer is – well – yes and no.

I’m not a graphic designer and I don’t do forms, flash or animation. Heck – when it comes to matching shirts and pants I still rely on my Garanimals®. (For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember go to www.garanimals.com.) 

Nonetheless I’ve found that even without great artistic talent I’m quite creative and I can put together a pretty darn good-looking web site. They are clean and contain informative content that’s easily found. I get lots of compliments on the ease of navigation and high degree of functionality of the web sites I build. 

I have six web sites for Katzscan including the main site. My Katzscan site has changed formats about every other year for the last eight years, each time getting a cleaner look. I like the current look and have used it as a basis for some of the other sites. A few of my sites could use a freshening up but their still very functional and no one seems to mind – I’ll get to them one day when I’ve got some extra time. 

My supply chain fraud (www.supplychainfraud.com) web site stretched my imagination a little as I incorporated images with relevant tips on each page to highlight the topic and add aesthetic balance. 

I look to closely match or create a compliment between web site colors to main theme and images. The color of the turnaround logo on my turnaround help (www.turnaroundhelp.com) web site is matched to the highlights in the page table border and the mouse-over page link highlighting. 

My “disconnected dots” (www.disconnecteddots.com) web site was a challenge at first but I quickly found a nifty way to scatter the disconnected dots which I was able to create myself. 

Content is key and I spend just as much time laying out the site’s pages as I do composing what I want to say. The mystique of web sites has long passed; people want useful information at their fingertips and a web site better deliver.  

For the British American Chamber of Commerce (Broward County, FL) I created a simple logo (I do have some graphic capabilities) and found lots of great royalty-free images. Check it out at www.baccbroward.org. The chamber members regularly tell me how much they love the site for its look, ease of navigation, and informative content. 

For the South Floridachapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners I matched the site’s color palate to that of the national web site by simply contacting the headquarters’ marketing department and asking for the red/green/blue levels of the official colors. Take a look at www.southfloridaacfe.org

Clean, simple, well-organized and highly informative – that’s basically what a web site should mostly be about. 

So – while I don’t list web sites under my consulting services…..do I do web sites? The answer is “Yes”. 

If you know of a business (maybe your own?) that needs a straightforward professional & informative web site, please let me know or just provide them my contact information.  

If you’re frustrated with your company’s web site or are getting some complaints – such as difficult navigation, hard-to-understand content, or other functional matters – please let me know. I can lead the redesign effort to structure a web site that delivers informative content and is easy to navigate.   

March 2010

Greetings everyone.

For this month's newsletter, I thought I would direct you to an article I wrote for the Institute of Supply Management. 

The article is about protecting against procurement fraud.  I cite the tainted pet food scandal of 2007 as a foundation case.  Linking quality assurance programs to the procurement function can help protect against this type of fraud.

To access the article, please go to:


February 2010

The multi-faceted services of Katzscan.

Since February is a short month I’ll follow suit with this month’s newsletter and keep it brief. 

During my 14 years in business, helping companies with annual sales of anywhere from $5M to $1.5B, I’ve had the opportunity along the way of assisting several start-up companies. I’ve taken someone’s vision and created a tangible software prototype, thrown much-appreciated monkey wrenches into ideas before it was “too late”, reshaped business models, provided insights regarding web site development aesthetics and content, and defined customer and supplier targeting tactics. 

Being in business for myself – and not having anyone mentor me at the beginning or through the years – I’ve had to figure out a lot of stuff on my own. (But I should firmly state that I have – to borrow and paraphrase – definitely gotten by with a little much appreciated help from some friends.) It’s interesting to see how I can apply my struggles to success to benefit start-up clients, even as they are typically much better capitalized – and thus have more initial resources – than me! J 

If it sounds like such business management consulting is a far cry from a typical computer consultant’s role, you are right. But as I enter year 15 I reflect back on how much Katzscan’s business model has grown and evolved from its start. 

Sure, I still love doing barcode scanning applications and Electronic Data Interchange solutions, either stand-alone or integrated to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. And with 25 years of business software programming experience the geek in me still – but silently – screams with delight at the chance to occasionally perform data analysis & reporting or tricky data conversions. Aside from a small custom database application now and then I don’t really find the need to write software from scratch anymore. I’ve had great successes creatively implementing off-the-shelf solutions for my clients and saving them 10’s of 1000’s of dollars on such projects along the way. 

So while staying true to my core business model – because it’s a great foundation – Katzscan has grown to offer more related services including:

· Software/Solution selection & implementation (ERP, EDI, inventory, fixed assets, etc.) 

· Supply Chain Vendor Compliance – upstream help such as chargeback reduction & relationship compliance 

· Supply Chain Vendor Compliance – defining downstream specifications for operational efficiencies 

· Nurturing supply chain relationships between my clients and their customers & suppliers

· Turnaround Management Help 

· Good Governance 

· Business Process Efficiencies 

· Management Advising 

· Fraud Detection & Reduction 

· And more…..

From what my clients and colleagues tell me, very few consultants offer the dual-perspective that Katzscan does in the ability to analyze and diagnose problems from both a business process and a systematic/data perspective, and to do so simultaneously. I think that this is one talent – other than a quirky sense of humor – my clients appreciate the most. Cutting through the chaos, redefining problems, and presenting realistic achievable solutions my clients know me as someone who gets the job done expeditiously. 

Like many other companies, Katzscan has grown with the times – it’s necessary to remain relevant. If your company or one that you know of is struggling to exist, to grow, or to remain competitive please let me know. Chances are very good that Katzscan can quickly assess the problems and recommend short-term and long-range solutions, giving them a good fighting chance to survive and the foundation upon which to thrive. 

January 2010

Dollars and Sense.


Greetings and welcome to 2010. The start of this year marks the completion of Katzscan’s 14th year in business. 

I certainly hope – as I’m sure everyone is – that this is a better year for all and that things pick up economically, fiscally, financially…..whatever your favorite monetary term is. 

Speaking of dollars and sense…..

I’ve helped companies successfully implement their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems after the selection & purchase was made and after months of unsuccessful use. 

One business owner told me he wished he’d met me before they committed to their ERP software because of all the problems they were having. Several months after “go-live” they could not process a customer order completely and there was disharmony between the software provider and his company due to project mismanagement and miscommunications on both sides. The business owner recognized the need for software and business operations expertise which he admitted he did not have in-house. 

He told me he regretted not making the investment at the beginning in a consultant to ensure the correct software decision was made and the implementation went smoothly. 

In this case and others the financial commitment to the ERP systems alone was in the six-figures and higher.  

In all cases my clients had smart, dedicated employees who were looking forward to getting their respective systems implemented; however the companies lacked the proper personnel to successfully do this on their own. Instead they floundered and wasted lots of time and money as they struggled through without proper leadership and project management. 

Across Katzscan’s 14-year history I’ve been able to get such projects on-track in timeframes from several weeks to several months, not necessarily requiring daily visits. 

By bringing operational and technology savings to the forefront while educating management on growth strategies and best practices, Katzscan is much more of a valued investment rather than a cost and provides more of an overall solution perspective. 

Why is an experienced multi-industry & solution-neutral consultant necessary for software and business improvement projects? Exactly for those reasons: to bring a broad base of expertise (technical & operational) and impartiality to the forefront and guide companies to the best solution possible. I’ve often said that while my clients know their industries I know their businesses, and this has proven true time and time again. 

Software providers are objective experts in understanding how their products work. A major gap that I fill is that of being a subjective expert in aligning my client’s business needs to software functionality without breaking either, meaning that my client’s operational requirements are met (though typically exceeded) without the need for expensive software modifications & customizations. 

The companies who thought they were saving money by tackling software and business operations projects without help didn’t save a penny; in fact they wasted considerable employee time and wages and suffered a lot of frustration and embarrassment in their customer and supplier relationships. 

Make a New Year’s resolution to get the help your company needs at the start of – if not before – software selection and process improvement projects. As my clients have found and continue to experience, investing in Katzscan’s help was money well spent and enabled them to solve problems faster.