The hidden benefits of IT audits

first_imgThe hidden benefits of IT auditsOn 26 Nov 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Although the dot.com boom has been and gone, companies still have much togain from the experience. Keith Rodgers investigates how to maximise yoursystem’s performanceChastened by falling sales and the collapse of the internet bubble, theinformation technology industry has done a little soul-searching during thelast year. Looking back at the heady days of the high-tech boom when customers werepromised the earth and more, many in the industry admit that what they actuallydelivered failed to live up to the hype, and that much IT investment missed themark. Ironically, as the dust settles from the explosive growth of the late 1990s,some of that over-exuberance is beginning to bring unforeseen benefits. For onething, it has led to a far more practical approach to IT expenditure. Whilebusinesses continue to invest, they are taking much more care over what theybuy and are typically looking to generate fast, tangible returns from any newprojects. Unused software For another, the slowdown has given firms a chance to review exactly whatthey spent their IT budgets on at the height of the dot.com boom. In many cases, the answer is ‘shelfware’ – individual software modules, oreven entire application packages, that were licensed, but never installed. Even for businesses that have gone through major organisational changeduring the slowdown, these packages can be more relevant today than when theywere first bought. The difference in today’s slower economy is thatorganisations have the opportunity to implement them and enjoy the benefits. Unused software is just one example of what can be unearthed whenorganisations take the time to audit their IT set-up. Compared to new software development initiatives, this is a relativelymundane activity for the IT department. But in an environment where pressure onthe bottom line means every penny must be squeezed out of the business, firmscan make significant gains by maximising their existing investments, from IT‘housekeeping’ projects to business process change and tactical purchases. And with it’s own hefty investment in IT systems, the HR department shouldbe in the thick of that activity. The one rule of thumb that needs to be applied to any IT audit process isthat every action stemming from the review must generate a tangible return tothe business. Giving a group of IT purists carte blanche to review your HRset-up is a recipe for chaos, for the simple reason that no system is ever 100per cent efficient and the scope for endless ‘optimisation’ work will beenormous. Rather than looking for better technology solutions, the organisation shouldlook for better business impact. In practice, that means the review should spanboth the technology infrastructure and the business processes it supports. The initial vision One starting point recommended by consultants and software vendors, is fororganisations to review the business case that drove their initial ITinvestment. As Michael Richards, CEO of Snowdrop Systems, points out, the final outcomeof a systems implementation often doesn’t match up to what was originallyenvisaged. There is a whole host of reasons for that kind of mismatch. Theprogramme may have lost its way after the project sponsor moved on, forexample, or perhaps the scope of the project shifted during a businessreorganisation. Alter- natively, as IT priorities changed, modules that weredue to be installed in ‘phase two’ of an implementation may have been leftuntouched, or systems that were initially planned to be rolled out to linemanagers may not have been extended that far. Whatever the cause, it is worth analysing the cost of resuming that part ofthe project against the return it will generate. The costs of this kind ofexercise should not be underestimated. Although the software itself may alreadyhave been paid for in the original licence fee, any sizeable project is likelyto require implementation expertise, some degree of integration and usertraining. But as long as the original business case was credible, it is quitepossible to realise the anticipated benefits even after these outlays. One important caveat is that business needs may have changed since theoriginal case was proposed, so the review must assess the ongoing relevance ofthe initial plans and pinpoint any new opportunities. Having reviewed their core infrastructure, companies should next look at howeffectively they are leveraging their IT applications on a day-to-day basis. Typically, one of the biggest failure points in HRIT, as in many othersectors, is the poor quality of data input. At one level, cleaning this up is arelatively simple – if sometimes time-consuming – process. Most HR databaseswill contain duplicate and inaccurate data that can be tidied up, along withobsolete files that can be removed and historical data than can be archived toimprove efficiency. What is more difficult, is tackling the fundamental problems that lead todata inaccuracy in the first place. Lluis Solervicens, director of the technology effectiveness group at MercerHuman Resource Consulting, points out that organisations suffer data errors forthree common reasons. First, they may never have had the time to study theproblem – making room to do so is what the HRIT review is all about. Second,they continue to run a significant number of manual processes where data has tobe keyed in, a process that is both time-consuming and prone to mistakes. Andfinally, the integration between core HR systems and other applications may bepoor. Replacing manual processes can be a sizeable investment, and one thattypically falls outside the scope of maximising existing HRIT investment.However, there are exceptions. Organisations that have already invested in aself-service infrastructure, for example, may find that for a relatively smalladditional investment they can extend the functionality to new departments orto cover new processes. As well as saving costs by providing for direct data entry, this alsoimproves accuracy. In many cases, it will be worth extending this review ofmanual processes to all HR business processes. US-based HR specialist JAT Computer Consulting suggests that organisationsshould consider bringing in a third party to conduct this type of audit, as anindependent body will not be influenced by historical perspectives on how andwhy existing processes evolved. Intergrating systems Improving integration between systems is also a notoriously complex andexpensive task, although methods to smooth the process are beginning to emerge,and IT integration tools can speed up the process for larger projects. Solervicens suggests that for global organisations and certain verticalsectors such as retail and manufacturing, investment in better integrationprovides measurable benefits where fast data dissemination is critical. Forexample, in the retail sector, real-time data flows from remote stores canalert central HR functions to absenteeism and even attrition problems far moreeffectively than if they rely on batch processing. While those improvements are designed to tackle data input problems, usersshould also take the time to study the data outputs, particularly in terms ofmanagement reporting. Basic reports typically evolve on an ad hoc basis, and itis inevitable that there will be some degree of reporting duplication acrossthe organisation. By the same token, some reports are likely to have becomeobsolete, particularly after periods of major corporate upheaval where jobs androles change. There are also a host of technology ‘housekeeping’ issues that can generatea significant return for the business. First, IT departments should check theyare up-to-date with maintenance releases issued by their incumbent softwarevendors. Typically, HR users will ensure upgrades are implemented when they cater forlegislative changes, but they may be less conscientious about other releases. Vendors expect users to keep up-to-date with these updates, which fix bugsand improve the efficiency of applications. Failing to do so can impact thelevel of support provided by software suppliers when technical problems arise. Reducing in-house maintenance By the same token, IT should take steps to cut internal maintenance demands.Look at the degree of customisation that has been carried out on non-criticalapplications. Bespoke software development inevitably increases the complexityof carrying out upgrades, and it is worth assessing whether the work reallydelivers ongoing value, or if it can be dropped in favour of out-of-the-boxfunctionality. Also look at duplicate websites, which typically emerge in larger firmswhere online initiatives are carried out at a departmental level. These can beaggregated and culled to reduce maintenance costs. In addition, old HR systemsshould be decommissioned where appropriate. Organisations often keep legacy applications running in parallel with newsystems, and it is tempting for users to continue working with familiar toolsfor as long as they can. Shutting these outdated applications down as soon as anew application is proven is an effective way of reducing system complexity. In addition, any audit should include a review of security procedures.Typically, the rules these are based on were designed to meet the businessneeds of the time. As the organisation evolves and roles change, they tend tobe patched up on an ad hoc basis. Tackling these issues not only reducescomplexity, but also allows companies to ensure the integrity of their securityprocedures is intact. Each of these measures potentially brings major benefits in their own right,and as part of a comprehensive system audit, the cumulative impact can besignificant. There is, however, one final caveat. Audit initiatives typicallyaren’t top of the agenda during better economic conditions, and there isusually a sound reason why. As the economy turns, newer, business-criticalpriorities will emerge, and companies will need to refocus on the emergingfrontline business activities. The real test of their desire to maximise theirinvestment will be whether they can keep these projects running in thebackground. Tactical investments or major overhaul?Although maximising IT investment isprimarily about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing systems,there are times when tactical purchases make an enormous difference to HRcapability. Sometimes these investments can be in routine process areas – anorganisation that is struggling to handle the higher volumes of jobapplications that are generated in a downturn, for example, may find thatpurchasing a recruitment module can generate tangible resource savings in HRand line management.In these instances, the guiding principles of tacticalinvestment should be:– Tackle immediate pain points for maximum business impact– Generate a measurable, rapid return that is visible to bothsenior management and end-users. This reinforces the likelihood of buy-in tofuture investment proposals– Ensure that the module does not already exist. Manyorganisations own functionality within their existing HRMS systems which ishidden from users as it wasn’t relevant when the system was initially set up– As well as assessing specialist providers, check whatfunctionality your existing software supplier has released since yourapplication was installed. One advantage of sticking with the existing vendoris that bolt-on applications are likely to be tightly integrated– Do not restrict tactical investments to software. Memory, forexample, is relatively cheap and can create tangible system improvement– Even in a downturn, organisations should also keep an openmind about making more significant HRIT investments. Introducing HRself-service, for example, is a major initiative, but it can generate tangiblecost savings and demonstrable return on investment (ROI) in an acceptabletimeframe– Users should even be prepared to consider a full systemreplacement, although budget constraints will be a major inhibitor. Mercer’sSolervicens, who recently completed research into the cost of upgrading, sayssmall and midsized companies often don’t dare to look at new systems because ofthe perceived outlay. However, an organisation of up to 500 employees with fiveto 10 HR users can buy a system with basic functionality for around £6,500. Fora larger outlay of around £15,000 upwards, a company can buy into the next tierof application, offering robust reporting tools, standard interfaces to themain payroll providers, workflow, limited self-service functionality, and otherfeatures– Finally, organisations may also consider the business casefor outsourcing their applications through an application service providermodel. It is important to note that this is not a way of purchasing software onthe cheap. But, as Snowdrop’s Richards points out, it is an effective way ofremoving the HRIT system burden at a fixed cost – a particularly attractiveproposition to the finance function in a downturnlast_img read more

Latest: Shocking details of Berkshire agents cartel case laid bare

first_imgHome » News » Latest: Shocking details of Berkshire agents cartel case laid bare previous nextRegulation & LawLatest: Shocking details of Berkshire agents cartel case laid bareIncriminating and sometimes naive discussions between agents published by CMA in its latest update on case.Nigel Lewis24th January 20202 Comments1,792 Views The detailed discussions between the four estate agents involved in the Berkshire cartel case have been published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), along with shocking evidence given by the individuals involved.These are largely emails sent between people working at Michael Hardy, Prospect, Richard Worth and a branch of Romans and are the lion’s share of the evidence gathered by the CMA to come to its decision on the cartel case.The discussions took place between September 2008 and May 2015 and were part of a ‘concerted effort’ to fix and maintain a level of commission fees for property sales in five areas.These were Wokingham, Winnersh, Crowthorne, Bracknell and Warfield.The combined £605,519 fines levied on three of the companies, Michael Hardy, Prospect and Richard Worth were revealed in December following a year-long investigation.Highlights of the report include inconsistencies in the evidence given by a Romans director during two interviews, who was also accused during the investigation of not cooperating with the CMA during it early stages.A director of Richard Worth initially refused to be interviewed but later relented.The cartel was prompted largely by the severe downturn in the economy and property market created by the financial crash of 2008 and started around the time of the failure of Northern Rock building society.The initial agreement was to set a minimum fee of £2,500 or 1.75% and a multiple agency fee of 3%. The average fee was between 1.7 and 1.8% but did drop down to 1.5% where competition was weakest.At least one of the agency directors believed their agreement ‘stopped short of cartel’.Romans put one smaller agency, Prospect, under severe pressure to join the cartel or suffer severe consequences. It was told that Romans could easily survive a downturn but that smaller agencies would not as the market contracted.Evidence shows agents emailed each other to point out when different branches were not ‘playing ball’ and had been charging clients 1.25% commission, for example, rather than the agreed 1.75% and above.Ignorance played a role – one agent says in an email “‘I’m not sure the exact definition of a cartel, but I do think the top 3 or 4 agents could quite easily agree a higher minimum fee.”One Romans director told other agents that agreeing common fees ‘was fine’ because not all agents in the area were involved.Wokingham was the focus of the cartel because it was where the four agents competed hardest for instructions.The agents kept the cartel going after 2012 when the recession ended because of competition from low-fee online agents.Four meetings a year held to discuss fees and keep branches in line continued until 2015.Within at least one of the agencies all the branch managers were aware of the minimum fee arrangement.Directors told staff who emailed in about the cartel ‘not to put things in writing’ and delete emails ‘like it never arrived’.All parties spent considerable amounts of time and effort monitoring competitors within the cartel ‘being sneaky’ over commission rates, as one email puts it.The cartel operated a fine system via invoices that forced participants who did not stick to the fee agreement to compensate competitors for lost business, although not all participated.The cartel (and exploring the setting up of similar arrangements in other areas,) was made part of a personal performance objective for one Romans director.Following the investigation, and the admission by all four agencies of their involvement in the cartel, Michael Hardy was fined £142,843, Prospect £268,765 and Richard Worth £193,911. Romans was not fined because it had come forward to the CMA about the cartel and therefore was able to benefit from the authority’s ‘lenience’ rules.Read the latest CMA document in full.CMA Competition and Markets Authority January 24, 2020Nigel Lewis2 commentsRobin Bruce, HelpHound HelpHound 24th January 2020 at 11:04 amNext: the first agent to be fined by the CMA for breaching their rules on reviews.Log in to ReplyNick Pope, Brownfields Ltd Brownfields Ltd 24th January 2020 at 9:40 amHaving worked in Wokingham and knowing the agents involved I am not the slightest bit surprised.Log in to ReplyWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021last_img read more

Adjunct Faculty, Welding CTE-CE

first_imgOne LSCStudent FocusedOwn ItAdvance EquityCultivate CommunityChoose Learning Equipment used includes, PC workstation running on a LAN in aMicrosoft Windows environment, calculator, phone and other generaloffice equipmentInterface with internal and external contacts as needed tocarry out the functions of the positionWork is performed in a climate-controlled office with minimalexposure to safety hazardsHours will vary depending on class time; Instructors arerequired to meet with classes at all scheduled times and beavailable to students outside of class instruction Demonstrated ability and commitment to workcollaborativelyDemonstrated commitment to multi-cultural andmulti-generational diversityDemonstrated commitment to the mission of the comprehensivecommunity collegeDemonstrated communication and computer skillsDemonstrated commitment to quality service to students KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES: Campus Marketing StatementLone Star College-North HarrisLone Star College offers high-quality, affordable academic transferand career training education to 99,000 students each semester. LSCis training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the communitycollege experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head,Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution ofhigher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impactof nearly $3 billion.LSC, which consists of seven colleges, ten centers, two universitycenters, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online, iscontinuously named Great Colleges to Work For by the Chronicle ofHigher Education. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.Lone Star College-North Harris, nestled on 200 acres of pineywoods, is the original and largest college in the Lone Star CollegeSystem family. Serving the community for more than three decades,LSC-North Harris offers more than 60 programs of study, includinguniversity-transfer and numerous education courses and programs.LSC-North Harris is keenly focused on leading-edge technology inemerging technical job fields.Campus address is 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, Houston, TX 77073.Job DescriptionPURPOSE AND SCOPE:It is the responsibility of the teaching faculty to provide thelearning activities and support that will lead to the achievementof the course objectives and contribute to the educationalenvironment of the college and the community. Primaryresponsibilities are to plan, develop and teach courses within thecurriculum in a manner that facilitates student learning.CE Adjunct faculty are hired in a part-time capacity on asemester-by-semester basis, contingent upon the needs of theSystem. Lone Star College accepts application material year-roundfrom qualified applicants willing to teach on a part-time basis.Adjunct (part-time) faculty hiring is based on student demand. Weoffer day, evening, and weekend classes. Classes are offered atvarious times and locations during the academic year. As a rule,adjunct faculty may teach a maximum of five classes per academicyear.ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS: WORK SCHEDULE & CONDITIONS: REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: At least 3 years of documented experience working or teachingWeldingcenter_img PHYSICAL ABILITIES:The work is sedentary. Typically, the employee sits comfortably todo the work. However, there may be some walking; standing; bending;carrying of light items, such as papers, books, or small parts; ordriving an automobile. No special physical demands are required toperform the work. Commitment to MissionThis job carries with it the obligation to uphold the Mission ofLone Star College (LSC) in carrying out the duties of the position.A commitment to positive interpersonal behaviors, professionalcommunication, diversity, integrity, leadership, stewardship,respect and accountability to LSC students and employees isessential.Cultural Beliefs The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” isdesigned to recognize colleges that have been successful increating great workplaces and to further research and understandingof the factors, dynamics and influences that have the most impacton organizational culture at higher education institutions.Lone Star College was recognized in five areas: Confidencein Senior Leadership; Diversity; Facilities, Workspace &Security; Job Satisfaction; and Work/Life Balance .Qualities of ExcellenceAs faculty members of Lone Star College, we strive to create anation of world citizenry in our students. In that pursuit, wemodel ways of thinking and being that incorporate diversity,equality, and equity. Our culture, then, requires the possession oftranscendent qualities that, while immeasurable, are evident inglobal citizens. We are compassionate with our students,colleagues, and ourselves. We are innovative in the pursuit oflearning. Ultimately, we create a culture where learning thrives,people are safe, and we mirror the qualities of worldcitizenry.Lone Star College faculty are dedicated to four qualities ofexcellence: Student InvestedContent ExpertPedagogically ExcellentInstitutionally Dedicated Teaches Welding courses at a variety of times andlocationsCreates engaging lessons that promote student involvement andapplication of the materialSubmits required college reports and forms in a timelymannerUtilizes a course syllabus for each course, followingestablished institutional guidelinesMeets with and advises students either before or after class orby appointment, electronic communication, or other appropriatemethodsEvaluates students to measure their progress in achievingcourse objectives and informs students in a timely manner of theirprogressMaintains professional relationships with students, colleagues,and the communityAttends meetings, trainings, and orientations as requiredResponsible for other reasonable related duties asassigned Salary$43.75 per contact hour.Benefits Marketing StatementBy joining our top-notch institution, you will enjoy being a partof an organization that offers a supportive, collegial workenvironment, excellent work/life balance, tuition waiver,participation in a tax deferred retirement plan, professionaldevelopment opportunities and more.Special InstructionsGo to the Job Search page, click on ‘My Activities’ at the top ofthe page. Under My Cover Letters and Attachments you will click on‘Add Attachment.’ Please be sure to put the Job ID# in the titleonce you name your file for cover letters only, unless you attachedyour cover letter with your resume.If you are applying for an Instructional position (i.e. Faculty,Adjunct Faculty, Instructor), please ensure you include thefollowing to be considered: Resume/CV, Cover Letter, TeachingPhilosophy, and unofficial transcripts.You must limit your file name for any attachment to 40 charactersor less.How to ApplyALL APPLICANTS MUST APPLY ONLINE ONLYWe will not accept application material received via fax, email,mail, or hand delivered.Postings for part-time and adjunct positions are active for theacademic year. By selecting the option to receive notifications onyour profile, you will begin receiving electronic communicationregarding new opportunities with Lone Star College (LSC).If selected for an interview, a recruiter will contact you byphone, or email to schedule an interview.Lone Star College participates in the E-Verify program, under whichLone Star College provides the federal government with informationfrom each new employee’s Form I-9 to confirm that the employee isauthorized to work in the United States.More information on the E-Verify program is available at www.dhs.gov/E-Verify .Lone Star College is an EEO Employer. All positions aresubject to a criminal background check.last_img read more