Effective Internal Control Systems and Optimal Processes and Procedures

How do firms choose their strategic control systems? What is the nature and function of strategic control systems? What are the critical elements of strategic control systems? What is the nature and function of internal control systems as critical element of strategic control systems? These strategic policy questions relate to the role of optimal organizational internal control systems, processes and procedures designed to create and sustain operational performance excellence that maximizes the return on investment and shareholders’ wealth while minimizing risks exposure and the cost of operations, simultaneously.

Clearly, effective internal control system is correlated with optimal operational performance excellence and critical to sound organizational systems and strategies designed to maximize the wealth producing capacity of the enterprise. In these series on organizational performance excellence, we will focus on the pertinent strategic control system questions and offer some operational guidance. The overriding purpose of this review is to highlight some conceptual framework, quality management theory and practice, strategic relationships, and industry best practices. For specific financial management strategies please consult a competent professional.

Internal controls as integral part of the strategic control systems is interrelated series of activities imposed on the standard operating procedures of an organization, designed to safeguard assets, minimize errors, and ensure that operations are conducted pursuant to standards. While strategic control systems establish standards and methods for measuring performance, determine whether actual performance matches the standard-expected performance, and execute corrective action, internal controls are designed to mitigate the level and types of risks to which an organization is exposed.

Further, while control systems ensure operational effectiveness, control activities frequently slow down the routine process flow of business operations, which may reduce its overall efficiency. Consequently, the design of internal control systems requires management to balance risk mitigation with operational efficiency. This process can sometimes result in management accepting a certain amount of risk in order to create a strategic profile that allows an organization to operate more efficiently and effectively, even if it suffers occasional losses because controls have been deliberately reduced.

Additionally, all organizational strategies subject to constrained optimization have costs and benefits. The critical question is: Do the benefits justify the costs? In practice, executive leadership applies the net present value approach to weigh the costs and benefits of structures, systems and strategies. The optimal option maximizes the net benefit by equating marginal costs and benefits.

Some Operational Guidance

In general, no organization is immune to misappropriation, embezzlement or corruption-whether it’s inadvertent or deliberate. Many organizations don’t assess misappropriation or corruption threats until they have already occurred. Effective internal control systems should be designed to mitigate the level and nature of risk which organizations experience. In practice, as integral part of internal controls, organizations leverage technology-enabled solutions to scan across the entire spectrum of operational risks, promptly.

The ability to identify potential high-risk internal and external transactions quickly before they adversely impact organizations is critical to optimal internal control systems designed to create and sustain operational performance excellence derivative of business intelligence, risks mitigation, data analytics and evidence-based knowledge driven effective organizational systems, processes and procedures.

Moreover, internal controls should provide the mechanisms, rules, and procedures implemented by organizations to ensure the integrity of financial and accounting information, facilitate accountability, and mitigate fraud and the entire spectrum of operational risks. Besides complying with laws and regulations, and preventing employees from misappropriating assets or committing fraud, internal controls should facilitate operational efficiency and effectiveness by improving the accuracy and timeliness of financial reporting. Effective internal control objectives should include regulatory compliance, accuracy, validity, physical safeguards, and error mitigation. Control procedures should include separation of duties, access controls, random physical audits, standardized documentation, trial balances, periodic reconciliations, and approval authority.

Controls should always include policies and procedures put in place to ensure the continued reliability of accounting systems. Accuracy and reliability are paramount in the accounting systems. Without accurate accounting records, managers cannot make fully informed financial decisions, and financial reports may contain devastating errors. Control procedures in accounting should be broken into several categories, each designed to prevent fraud and identify damaging errors before they become problems or crisis.

Control system should fully address regulatory requirements, meet stakeholder expectations and protect organizations from potential catastrophic financial and reputation damages. When properly deployed and integrated, organization’s risk mitigation, anti-misappropriation, anti-bribery and anti-corruption technology-based solution should use digitally enabled analytics and advanced monitoring tools to help organizations scan across the compliance and operational risks spectrum, so they can more intelligently anticipate, mitigate and manage risks.

While smaller organizations with limited resources cannot always afford elaborate internal controls including segregation duties and decisions, system of internal controls tends to increase in complexity as organization increases in size. Establishing standards and methods for measuring performance; determining whether actual performance matches the standard-expected performance; and taking corrective action should always be integral to effective internal controls.

Finally, internal control is most effective when it is embedded and supported by a culture of assessment and continuous improvement. Therefore, effective internal control should consist of an integrated process for assuring organization’s objectives in operational efficiency and effectiveness, reliable financial reporting, and compliance with laws, regulations and policies are being met. Controls should include effective use of firewalls and encrypted passwords that limit internal and external access to critical business intelligence, proprietary, accounting and other financial information. Systematic measurement, analysis, and knowledge management require internal control results to be collected, analyzed and used for continuous improvement.

In sum, control systems should provide processes and procedures by which an organization’s resources are directed, monitored, and measured. Internal control system should include human elements such as board of directors exercising effective oversight and independent internal auditors conducting random periodic audits and unscheduled verification. Control systems, processes and procedures are critical in detecting and mitigating high risk activities and preventing various types of misappropriation and protecting the organization’s resources, both tangible and intangible resources.

Benefit Of Having Good And Timely Financial Report

While there are numerous benefits of having accurate and timely financial reports, we have identified few key benefits of financial statements.
1. Understanding the Financial Status of Your Business
The complete financial status of your business can be presented in a quality financial statement. The three main financial statements are the balance sheet, the income statement and the cash flow statement. The balance sheet reflects the owner’s equity after the liabilities are subtracted from the assets. The income statement which is also known as the profit and loss statement shows the profit derived from income over a defined period of time. A cash flow statement is a valuable tool for showing if there is enough cash coming in to pay for the operations of the business. A cash flow can be projected out over several months. The Income Statement shows how the restaurant and hotel perform over a period of time (i.e. a week, month or year). It takes all restaurant and hotel expenses into account, from prepaid expenses to expenses paid in the future. Overall, the Income Statement tells the operator if the business is making a profit. From there, the operator can begin making changes in policy and implementing strategies that will help the restaurant achieve its goals. Should new sales programs be implemented? Does food cost in line with menu prices? Is the restaurant hitting its budgets? Can the owner(s) make distributions to the partners? These are some of the key questions that need to be addressed. The basic formula for an Income Statement is:
Sales – Cost of Goods Sold – Expenses = Profit/Loss
The Income Statement is everyone’s favorite financial statement to review because it reveals the nature of the restaurants and hotel success. Restaurant and Hotel financial statements should be broken down into the following categories:
• Sales/room revenue
• Salaries
• Employee Benefits
• Controllable
• Occupancy
• General and Administrative
• Depreciation
• Interest
• Other Income

If sales and expenses are broken down into specific categories, the operator can easily compare and analyze his or her restaurant and hotel to industry standard percentages. Timely financial reporting will help to control the cost of goods sold like beverage cost food cost
The health of a restaurant and hotel can be analyzed from the Balance Sheet at any point in time (i.e. today, last month or tomorrow). The Balance Sheet allows operators to forecast short and long-term cash flow. As important as it is to review the Balance Sheet, few restaurants ever bother to prepare it. By checking the accuracy of the Balance Sheet, an operator can ensure the accuracy of the Income Statement. The Balance Sheet lists all the assets, liabilities and equity of the restaurant. The formula for the Balance Sheet is:
Assets = Liabilities + Equity
In the simplest terms, assets are what the business owns such as equipment, inventory or cash. Liabilities are what the business owes such as vendor bills, loans, notes, and leases. Even a gift certificate is a liability because the restaurant owes someone a meal at a future date. Equity is the ownership of the business.
It is important that assets and liabilities are properly classified on the Balance Sheet. To get a clearer picture of the business, an operator should break down the Balance Sheet into subcategories. The breakdown is explained as follows:
• Current Assets: assets with the life less than a year (i.e. cash, credit card receivables, inventory and prepaid expenses).
• Fixed Assets: assets with a life greater than a year that directly attributes to producing revenue (i.e. equipment, computers, furniture and leasehold improvements).
• Other Assets: assets with a life longer than a year that is not directly involved in the production of revenue (i.e. security deposits, trademarks and artwork).
Liabilities require a similar classification and are broken down as follows:
• Current Liabilities: debts due within one year (i.e. accounts payable, accrued expenses, short-term loans and even gift certificates).
• Long-Term Liabilities: debts due that extend beyond one year (i.e. notes payable or long-term leases).
There is so much information to be gained from the Balance Sheet. For example, a restaurant and hoteliers that have large debts may have major cash flow problems. Identifying the current debts from the long-term debts on the Balance Sheet help determine the short and long-term cash needs, as well as the business potential success. Restaurateurs and hoteliers who take on large debts upon opening could be shooting themselves in the foot. The restaurant may show large profits based on the Income Statement, but the restaurant may not have money because it is paying out the outstanding debt (which is revealed in the Balance Sheet).
Most restaurants and hotels are set up as Partnerships or Sub Chapter S corporations, they have to explain all business expenses and income to all partner.
2. Sales Pattern
Financial statements reveal how much a restaurant owner and hoteliers earns per year in sales. The sales may fluctuate, but financial planners should be able to identify a pattern over years of sales figures. For example, the restaurant owner and hoteliers may have a pattern of increased sales when a new product is released. The sales may drop after a year or so of being on the market. This is beneficial, as it shows potential and sales patterns so executives know to expect a drop in sales.
3. Financial Statements Will Help Prepare A Budget And Make Financial Decisions
Timely financial reporting will help you prepare a budget and make an easy way to take the financial decisions to grow the business.
4. Improved financial management
Timely financial reporting helps you to examine and correct any weaknesses in your financial systems. Improved financial management allows you to focus on current financial matters and develop future plans.
5. Better resource management
Due to timely frame financial report the restaurant owners and hoteliers will get accurate numbers of resources, therefore, they can use optimum use of all resources.
6. PERFORMANCE EVALUATION
Under this type of accounting practice, Business Owners may assess the performance of the Employees in the financial performance of the business.

The Almost “Secret Ingredient” to a Highly Profitable Business

Recently, I watched probably one of my favorite movies of all time:

Kung Fu Panda.

Now, before you write this off as a stupid animated movie, there’s a GREAT business lesson hidden inside if you’re an expert, consultant, or coach.

Here’s the TL;DR version of the movie:

1) A big fat panda, Po, is “accidentally” picked to become the chosen one

2) His master, Shifu, doesn’t want to train him because Shifu believes Po was chosen by accident

3) The great master Oogway, however, tells Shifu that “there are no accidents”

4) Shifu finally teaches Po the art of kung fu. Eventually, Po is entrusted with the legendary “Dragon Scroll” which holds the ancient secrets to save the kingdom

5) Po opens the Dragon Scroll only to find… nothing… and realizes: “There is no secret ingredient.”

The essence is simple:

Po always had everything he needed to become “the chosen one.”

He didn’t need anything fancy.

What he actually needed was the right mentor and the right training program.

Here’s my point:

Just like Po realized that there is no secret to becoming the “chosen one.”

No matter what the Fakebook guru’s preach, there is *NO* secret “hack,” “funnel,” or “tactic” that will turn your business into a profitable one.

Of course, you *can* find new tactics, hacks, and whatever. But, if your foundation isn’t solid (i.e., if your strategy is weak). It won’t matter which new hack you try to install into your business.

Whether that’s Facebook hacks… webinars… Instagram… or, insert whatever new tactic the latest Fakebook guru’s try to shove down your throat. Eventually, it’s only a matter of time before your business crumbles beneath its own weight.

The closest thing to a “hack” that can take you from frazzled entrepreneur to profitable business owner is learning how to write emails that sell.

The only difference is that email marketing isn’t a hack… it’s a powerful strategy.

In my opinion (which, of course, makes it a fact).

This was true when I worked my corporate job and sold for millions of dollars by email and online marketing.

And it’s been true in my own business.

To round this off.

Take that to heart the next time you sit down to write your latest email designed to sell.

If you want to discover how to 2x your sales and get more clients for your business, my free online training session is a great place to start.

You’ll learn how to use the old-school principle of “Infotainment” to write emails that people LOVE to read. Including: How to write stories so compelling they immediately draw customers in – even if you’re not a professional writer… and much more.