Business Plan Software: Do You Need It?

Business plan software is something that often gets overlooked
and isn’t considered to be a necessity for some reason. In my
opinion, business plan software is essential, it is not a luxury.
I am a huge advocate of business planning. When people ask me if
they need a business plan, my response is, “Absolutely!” You see,
starting a business without a business plan is akin to starting
college without a degree plan. If you don’t know where you are
going, you won’t know how to get there. You will waste your time
and your money if you are not following a plan. It’s really that
simple!

So, you know you need a business plan, but what about business
plan software? For business planning, there are really three
alternatives: 1) crafting your own business plan from scratch; 2)
hiring a business plan writer or business planning consultant; or
3) using business plan software to write your own business plan.
Each of these alternatives has its own advantages and
disadvantages.

Writing your own business plan from scratch is certainly a
possibility. Doing so gives you the freedom to format and arrange
the plan in any way that you see fit. On the other hand, doing
financial projections, which are necessary for the purpose of
budgeting and financial planning, can be difficult to do without
a business plan program, or at least financial projection
software or spreadsheets.

Hiring a business plan writer makes sense for some people. A
business plan writer is generally well-versed in business
planning and will have insight that will assist you in preparing
a comprehensive business plan that takes everything into account.
The disadvantages to having your business plan professionally
written are the expense associated with the initial plan, and the
limitations that exist in regard to changing it as your business
evolves, which is something that business plan software empowers
you to do.

Business plan software is relatively inexpensive when compared to
hiring a professional business plan writer or consultant.
However, when compared to doing your own plan from scratch, it
may seem like an unnecessary expense. Business plan software does
have many advantages. A good business plan software package, like
Business Plan Pro by Palo Alto, has the headings and categories
for a business plan already set up for you. It also has guidance
throughout the business planning process that explains what to
include in each part of your business plan.

What I really love about Business Plan Pro is that it is so easy
to do financial projections using the business plan software,
whether or not you understand accounting. The main financial
sections include a section for start-up costs, one for income
projections, one for a proforma balance sheet, and one for a
projected cash flow statement. Information that input into one of
the financial forms automatically transfers calculations to the
other financial statement forms making the process of projecting
your financial plan a breeze.

Another huge advantage I see in regard to business plan software
is that when you use business plan software to create your own
business plan, you can make changes to it anytime you need to. It
doesn’t become a stale document that sits on the shelf and
collects dust. A business plan should be always evolving. You
should update your business plan frequently including new goals,
objectives and milestones. You should also adjust your financial
projections regularly for the purpose of budgeting. Business plan
software makes it easy to do.

If you choose not to use business software, and to create your
own business plan from scratch, you will need some guidance
unless you are a professional business planner yourself. The
Small Business Administration http://www.sba.gov has some excellent
resources and guides about business planning. If you choose to
hire a professional business plan writer, do review their
qualifications and references and make certain that you
understand exactly what is included in the business planning
services they are offering.

Business Process Management: Understanding and Implementing

If yours is a business with several departments, at one point you start to realize that in order to stay competitive, increase productivity and bring efficiency to your business, you need to optimize and automate some of your business processes. To identify which parts of your business activities are required to be optimized, first you need to have a clear understanding of the processes involved in your particular business.

What is a Business Process?

A business process is a series of specific, measured tasks performed by people and systems and designed to achieve a predetermined outcome. The processes have these important characteristics:

  1. The processes have internal and external users.
  2. They take place across or between organization’s departments or different organizations.
  3. They are based on how work is done in the organization.

The business processes have three key elements – Entity, Object, and Task.

Entities: Where the process occurs.

Objects: The processes are results of handling objects. Objects could be physical or informational.

Tasks: Works done to handle the objects.

The followings are examples of business processes:

Mortgage application processing

Credit verification

Product development

Travel planning

Opening a new account

Answering to a Request for Quote

Shipping a product

Companies are trying to improve their business processes using computer technology starting ever since the computer technology has emerged. Initial emphasize was given to enterprise resource planning. Main areas where automation was adopted were production, accounting, procurement and logistics. The next step was sales and marketing automation. Next came customer relationship management and supplier relationship management. Last couple of years we are seeing implementation of Business Process Management across the board. Companies are adopting BPM in the areas where it could make real differences. Some of these processes involve several departments of the company and some are result of real-time interaction of the company with its suppliers, customers and other business partners.

Interest in BPM is growing really fast, according to a report from Forrester Research, one-third of organizations surveyed by the firm are currently using or piloting BPM, a dramatic increase compared with mid-2002, when just 11% were trying BPM.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

BPM automates and streamlines the business processes which are crucial for the organization in order to improve productivity. From hiring a person to processing a purchase order, BPM helps restructuring, controlling and handling workflows involving people and systems to complete a process more efficiently.

To use BPM effectively, companies must focus on the outcome of the process and design workflows based on the expected result from the process. There should not be any difference between a task done by computer systems or people. BPM should be able to map the interaction among the entities, objects and tasks and bring them inline with the process workflow. Business rules used in the process also should be clearly defined. While trying to automate a business process you have to keep in mind that finding a process which should be streamlined is not that difficult! Problem occurs when you try to define which entities are involved and how the evolved method will distribute the previous roles among the new tasks owners.

The benefits of BPM adoption are enormous:

Direct

  • Update processes in real time
  • Reduce overhead expenses
  • Automate key decisions
  • Reduce process maintenance cost
  • Reduce operating cost
  • Improve productivity

Indirect

  • Improve process cycle time
  • Improve forecasting
  • Improve customer service
  • Improve sourcing time cycle

How to figure out which of the business processes you need to automate?

Companies are using BPM systems to automate virtually every aspect of their businesses. A company for example might have priorities to automate their sales activities, requisition process, procurement process, warehousing, call center, etc. However, the focus initially should be given on those areas that meat the following criteria:

  • The business process should be crucial for productivity improvement
  • Savings from automation is clearly visible
  • Return on Investment from implementation is high and preferably immediate

Since your business has unique characteristics which differ from others, you might have business processes that have exceptional business rules. Normally, this type of business processes need maximum attention and substantial resources. Business Process Management tools are great in handling exceptions. Use BPM systems to streamline these processes.

What are BPM Systems?

BPM Systems are applications that help organizations to automate their business processes end to end from a workflow task to process outcome so that they can reduce process costs, improve productivity and bring efficiency to their business.

A successful implementation of BPM systems requires clear understanding of organization’s business processes, business rules, and willingness of the management and workers to embrace new way of doing business.

Your Enterprise Portal can be the BPM platform you need

Your company Portal is the access point for your customers, vendors, business partners and staff to company information and services. A typical company Portal is an integrated website of Intranet, Extranet, Repositories, Procurement and Sales Systems, Customer Relationship Services, etc. Today, advanced Portals are also integrating Business Process Management Systems, which enables automation of workflows that model end-to-end business processes.

In any business process the owners of the process, the users and the objects interact at many levels, such as starting a process, monitoring the process, doing a task, creating new activity, approving a task, etc. In order to reflect the business processes, their progress and interaction with users and owners, a dashboard is used. You can easily integrate any business process into your company Portal and display needed workflows, notifications, charts, performance indicators as a dashboard on it.

Conclusion

Investment in BPM is the same as any other technology related investment. If you plan the project properly, set a clear goal, educate the people those who have to change their mindset once the system is implemented and get necessary support from the management, you can count on a massive return on your investment.

Home Based Business Australia

Having a home based business can bring you a lot of benefits, like never having to drive to work, being your own boss, and setting your own work hours. However, you are still running a business, so you need to follow the laws for having a home based business Australia. One aspect of your home based business Australia at which you need to look closely is your taxes.

When looking at your taxes for your home based business Australia, you should first consider if what you are doing is a hobby or an actual home based business. A home based business Australia is one in which the business is operated at home (most of the business is carried out at the home of the owner) or the business is operated from home (the business does not own or rent the home of the owner). However, what you may think is a home based business Australia may really be a hobby if you do not include what you earn from your activities in your assessable income or you do not claim any deductions for expenses associated with your activities.

If you do find that you are running a home based business Australia, then you should examine the structure of the business to make sure it is the right structure for your home based business Australia. Consider if you are truly running a sole trader, partnership, trust, or company, as your home based business Australia will be taxed differently depending on how your business is structured. You want to make sure you are paying the appropriate type of tax for your home based business Australia. If you are not sure, you should sit down with a tax or small business professional to avoid over or underpaying your taxes for your home based business Australia.

Once you know what type of home based business Australia that you are running, you will also need to register you business. It may be a good idea to discuss your home based business Australia with a professional, as you will need to know what tax obligations you have. There are three basic tax obligations like the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYG), and the Fringe Benefits Tax. You may also need to obtain an Australian Business Number for your home based business Australia.

Should you have a specific type of home based business Australia, you may need to obtain licenses or local approvals to run your home based business Australia. Check with your local or state officials to see what is required for your home based business Australia.

Should you choose to sell or close down your home based business Australia, you will need to contact the Tax Office to make sure that certain tasks are taken care of. For instance, you may need to cancel your ABN and other registrations. You may also need to make adjustments to your GST final activity statement, calculate a capital gain or loss, and even lodge final tax returns.

Read the rest of the article here: Home Based Business Australia.