Where Jingoism Meets Intellect

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Ships, Storms and Strategy

Getting the Hang of this Now?

Wow! What a tumultuous year that was; how did you fair, what did you learn?

I guess in the first instance Covid-19 exposed our weaknesses and tested the strength of our strategy.

Was your Vision supported by a well-defined strategy and did your Value Proposition hold merit? A deserved congratulations if so, but what if not? What if your market is more mature; e.g., transporting shipping containers, port- in-land? How do you differentiate yourself going forward to add value, command price premium or grow your market share? not everyone can “boil the ocean” and structurally change.

Is next year going to be the same, just calmer? I don’t think so; the ocean, really has moved, but having said that, the opportunity to press the, Re-Set Button, in this age, is unique and if that is coupled to current macro- economics then opportunity abounds.

Responsibility for understanding that landscape and navigating a way forward, belongs to us as Directors and Senior Managers. The circumstances of this year may not have been conducive to looking at it in depth because we were trying to manage the day-to day, but 2021 is looking more resolved and I would firmly urge you, to sit down over the break and start to be thinking about the way forward.

As ever, feel free to reach out; we’re here to help you, be that just information, a call – a voice to bounce off, or something more structured; always pleased to help and of course there are over twenty proven tools within our management toolkit to help, guide and support you.


Enjoy your well-earned break Captain!

Best. Mike

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Addenbrookes Cambridge – Thank you!

This is a simple, public post of gratitude and thanks to all the Consultants, Doctors, Nurses and Support Staff who looked after me so superbly when I was recently admitted under Blues and Twos to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.

Despite all my best attention and adherence to Healthcare Guidelines, COVID-19 snuck in and robbed me of my O2; not a nice experience for sure, but all is well now and each day gets better.

Gratitude is a simple act which can resonate and ripple so far and when life is at risk, I think it’s reasonable to say that it is amplified.

So how does one respond, in saying “Thank You” when the act of giving, extends far beyond expectation?

A Nurse at Addenbrookes had noticed that my D.O.B was imminent; below is the photograph of what she and the team did.

Such care, such thoughtfulness; an act of kindness beyond expectation.

I say it simply but with heartfelt gratitude.

Thank you to all.


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Oh Yes… (joke!)

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Stay Calm

I am sure you will have read the heart-warming news this week of the ten-year-old boy who was swept out to sea in Scarborough and was subsequently rescued over an hour later.

The boy had previously watched “Lifeboat Rescues”, a documentary on the BBC  and had followed the survival advice given on the show.

Lee Marton, coxswain at Scarborough lifeboat station said “We’re very much in awe of this incredible lad, who managed to remain calm and follow safety advice to the letter in terrifying and stressful circumstance, had he not, the outcome might have been very different.”

Having watched my other news feeds over the past few months and the various responses to the COVID epidemic I thought it rather timely to quote the idiom

“When you’re up-to your neck in alligators……”

From what I see and from talking to my Clients, I think that most Directors and Senior Managers would agree that aside from the tactical responses that are required, it is the unknown future state that demands attention. Calmness, evaluation of options, alertness, and focus- just as the ten -year old lad did; It’ll be great to see where his career takes him.

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“There is a tide in the affairs of men”

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

Shakespeare. Julius Caesar


The Covid19 pandemic has been an incredible and surreal times for many of us.

I wouldn’t be trite and dismiss the impact that this has had, but I do think that the positive, flip-side of the coin, is the opportunity of time afforded, to be able to think deeply about what actually matters, and what we value.

Our thinking time about our businesses, has either confirmed our strategy and we have just paused in it’s execution, or we have re-configured our business model and are looking forward to new, challenging and exciting times.

I believe that there is now a galvanising of desire, will and economy, which makes these times more interesting and of greater required focus; we certainly need a greater level of sophistication in our strategy and its execution that I don’t think, has previously been seen.

If we add to to this thought, and in addition, grasp the many funding opportunities that are being offered to us, we should be in a very strong position to to drive forward with a re-invigorated business.

Final thought?..

think-forward.co.uk and seize the moment!

Best. Mike

Footnote: Last week it was announced that The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), which is funded by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) has been extended until December 2022 and will give a further 2800 companies access to grants to tackle immediate business issues and support improvement plans.
This additional backing is will take the total package of support to £18.3m across 17 regions.

Contact info@carr-consultants.co.uk

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The Common Challenges with a Manual AP Process

PR release from SAP Concur, on AccountingWeb this morning which I thought useful to share.

The opening statement regarding late payment is certainly topical given the news regarding Holland & Barrett though perhaps not directly related to the very valid topic discussed.

So- manual AP processes.

“Yes” I hear you say, but “I already know this”…………indeed, but….Are you doing anything about it?

The Federation of Small Businesses recently found that 84% of Small Businesses had been paid late; providing more than a hint that the processes that businesses have in place for approving and paying supplier invoices is far from problem-free.

The Challenges

For a lot of businesses, the challenge can start before an invoice has even been received. Non-digitalised purchase order (PO) processes culminate in a lack of visibility as to what’s been purchased, and in other cases where a PO isn’t generated at all, a lack of control what spend is coming down the tracks.

This is far from the end of it. Once the invoice has been received, finance are often left scratching their heads around where precisely in the business it has been received and in what form (email or paper). It was reported that one third of invoices often end up in the wrong place within a company; an example which has stayed with me was an onsite meeting I attended. As I was signing into the guestbook at reception there was a paper invoice lying right next to it. The finance team were left red-faced as they didn’t know it was there.

Similarly, a not for profit I worked closely with found that prior to automating their AP process their invoices were not being received by head office as they should be but instead to their charitable stores. This was resulting in duplicate invoices and even instances of paying invoices more than once. They were not alone in experiencing this challenge; a Vanson Bourne study found that 41% of business have received a duplicate invoice and 33% actually paid one.

Once the invoices are located, so begins the task of moving them around the business for approval. Often the invoices will be printed out to try and help with this task; but what if those individuals are out of office? I once met a Finance Director whose team were being blamed for late payments, but he was adamant the invoices were already overdue before they reached his team! This is a common theme as 83% of finance leaders have said they pay supplier invoices late at least some of the time.

As if all this wasn’t challenge enough, the final task in the process is manually matching invoices to outstanding POs and then rekeying the information into a finance system. These tasks alone often constitute a full-time job for multiple employees within a business. One such example I encountered required a finance team spending 4-6 days a month on such tasks.

So how can these challenges be solved?

By moving away from a manual, paper AP process to one that is paper-free and automated, the benefits are clear.

Upfront, automated workflows and the ability to compare spend to relevant budgetary information gives visibility and control over purchase order raising. This is particularly important when you consider that in a non-automated world 56% of finance teams admitted they are unable to identify the exact amount of their supplier invoice liabilities at any time.

The arduous task of matching and rekeying invoice information is also removed through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. An SAP Concur study found that OCR technology alone can reduce invoice processing times by as much as 50-75%.

One of the factors I always highlight to companies is that an automated system also acts as a central repository. Invoices can be located quickly, as can potential duplicates. Our recent case study with Atech Support highlighted how, once live, they were able to clearly see where in the process invoices were and whether they had been approved.

A big challenge that an automated system will solve is process bottlenecks. Especially when you introduce a mobile element into the equation. An IDC report found that automating AP workflows resulted in 68% less time processing invoices. Bottlenecks often develop at the approval stage of the process in a manual world. By making invoice a more mobile experience, the staff at Harrow School found this particular challenge was eliminated.

It goes without saying that the streamlining of the AP process keeps supplier’s happier. An IDC report found that those who automated made 67% fewer late payments to suppliers. Time can also be given back to staff members to focus on more strategic tasks. As Atech Support found, their finance team saved two and a half hours per day after automating.

Source : Accounting Web 11.04.19 SAP Concur

There are plenty of opportunities to remove transaction cost from your Finance Department irrespective of your Company’s size and the AI software market is moving fast to capitalise on those opportunities.

Longer term large players include Basware and Genpact management but new players are also offering high value e.g Netsuite’s Brainyard or Soldo Expenses.

If you would like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop me a line; if we could save you 1.0% point what would that be worth to you?

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Exporters recognised in New Year’s Honours list

With our daily digest of the Brexit headlines I do think that the consciousness of the British public is being awoken as to the importance of our manufacturing base and how much added value is created by it. I was thus really pleased to see recognition give to Heba Bevan of micro technology business, Uterberry and Stephen Edwards, Managing Director of engineering firm Flamgard for their contribution to our international trade and exports.

If you are looking to develop and grow your business, there are innumerable support and funding initiatives currently available; don’t hesitate to call or drop me a line for more information.

Press Release : Department For International Trade 28.12.18

Total UK exports are at record high, rising 2% to £626 billion in the year to October 2018.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP congratulates business leaders and exporters being recognised with Honours for truly exceptional and outstanding service to international trade and exporting.

Those recognised in the New Year’s Honours list 2019 include:

Stephen Edwards, Managing Director of engineering firm Flamgard – who earlier this year were presented with a Board of Trade Award (BOFTA)
Dairy Crest’s CEO Mark Allen, for services to the UK’s dairy sector
Utterberry Managing Director, Heba Bevan
Paul Flanagan, Secretary General of UK space Trade Association
Entrepreneur and founder of Ella’s Kitchen, Paul Lindley
Chipside Managing Director, Paul Moorby
Also being recognised in this Honours round are:

Harper’s Bazaar US Editor-in-Chief Glenda Bailey for services to the GREAT Britain campaign
Chair of the British Business Group in the UAE, Richard Oliver
Long-serving Department for International Trade colleague Adam Thomas is also being recognised with an MBE.

These Honours recipients have shown exceptional service to the UK economy and British prosperity, through UK export promotion across sectors from space and technology to fashion, and food and drink.

Posted in Added Value, Business Excellence, Business Plannng, Business Strategy, Engineering, Heba Bevan Utterberry, Manufacturing, Stephen Edwards Flamguard, Strategy | Leave a comment

Continuation to yesterdays post..

So  this morning I was just grabbing a last coffee before heading out when my wife walked in. – “What are you up to?”?

“I’m just thinking that I’ve an hour before I leave and wondering what I can do to make a difference and move things forward”

“Well you could start by making that bed upstairs!….”

Oh don’t you just love ’em! …lol!

Painful truth is she was right…..do as you say…

Have a good day.


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If You Want to Change the World- Make Your Own Bed

I tend to rebel against being told what to do, maybe a little of the the left brain thinking in me but I suspect more likely an element of my Irish gene lol!, but what I have also learnt over the years, is that I will always follow and support someone whom I respect and that comes from not just their intellect but also from their journey in life- having been there and got both the bruises and the medals.

This caught my ear tonight; for sure, someone whom I could respect, someone whom I could learn from, someone whom I could follow, – thought I’d share; hope you like.


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