Monday, May 8, 2017

NSE Apapa Branch Offers tips to Engineering Businesses on Managing their Business Infrastructures During recession



Nigerian Society of Engineers Apapa Branch had offered incentives to engineers in business nationwide on managing their businesses as the country Business community reels in the aftereffect of the recession. 

This was the main theme of the 2017 Annual Public Lecture organised by the Branch titled: “Solutions To Managing Private Sector Business Infrastructure In a Recession” where keynote address was delivered by Engr Adesanya Michael.

The Event had in attendant various business leaders and engineers. It becomes imperative as many local engineers are themselves caught in the nation's economic challenges in the wake of the dwindling revenue. 

The chairman of the branch, Engr Ombugadu Garba challenged engineers to bring their experience to bear to help Nigeria out of recession in consonant with the Federal Government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. He stated that the leaders must look inward to reprioritize, re-strategize and diversify the economy as well as build social networks and needful infrastructure.

Members at the Lecture listening with rapt attention
According to Engr Garba: “ No nation can develop more than its technology, as such we must use our professional expertise to make our country great again.”

Engr Garba urged both young and experience engineers to be creative and forward looking saying the era of white-collar jobs is becoming very difficult by the day.

In his lecture titled “Solutions To Managing Private Sector Business Infrastructure In a Recession”, Adesanya called on engineers to be forward looking and imaginative. He also urged engineers to avoid the consequence of unprepared emergencies by doing regular data analysis and assessment with multidisciplinary approach.

Engr. Michael .A. Adesanya, a registered engineer with  over 20 years experience in management of various infrastructures in the manufacturing and Financial services industries explored “Solutions To Managing Private Sector Business Infrastructure In a Recession”.

The Topic was chosen in a bid to assist Engineers in private businesses manage their business infrastructures as it is well known that the business environment (in the country) is going through a recession. Engineers cannot therefore pretend to be insulated from the economic hardship in the country. 

Engr Adesanya reminded the Engineers that the available statistics noted that both Central Bank and NBS painted negative pictures of the economy. With the real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, individual production and wholesale-retail sales, foreign investment dropping, as the country’s Oil income dipped, the country business climate took the hit. The country’s business recorded slowdown, while household income dipped as inflation rises.


A cross section of attendees at the Lecture 
HIGHLIGHT OF THE LECTURE:
IMPACT OF RECESSION
  1. Low demand from households - firms reduce their production of goods in order to cut cost.
  2. Lay-off of workers
  3. No buying of new equipment
  4. No funding for research and development
  5. No new product rollouts and general business activities would also fall
  6. Product quality compromise
It also affects the revenue of firms, and by extension, profitability. In an effort to cut costs and improve its bottom line, a company may attempt to compromise its product quality, and in the process lose its credibility and market share.
"No nation can develop more than its technology, as such we must use our professional expertise to make our country great again.” Engr Ombugadu Garba
MANAGING BUSINESS INFRASTRUCTURES
Faced with the tough reality of the impact enunciated earlier, the job of an Engineer which is to manage the staff & equipment for production becomes extremely challenging.

Suggested Initiatives Based on Experience

1. DEVELOP EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIP
Despite profuse talk about “partnership”, adversarial relationships too often arise when suppliers are treated like vendors. The tendency is for companies to squeeze out of every contract. However there are bigger-picture value metrics to consider.
Branch Chairman, Engr Garba delivering his address 
The focus in a recession is not all about cost reduction, it should include engagement with important suppliers through the use of request for proposal (RFP) processes that is transparent. Invite service providers to make helpful recommendations towards achieving core strategic objectives of the business.

 Communication is key in developing value partnership; this would involve dialogue and proactive conversations with service providers. Rather than dwelling on cost savings only, contract negotiations should include flexibility for corrections and modifications as business conditions are dynamic.

2. CENTRALISE AMENITIES
Apart from the added–value of improving interpersonal relationship among staff and encouraging employees to walk for health reasons, centralized amenities also save cost of purchasing additional equipment/ machines and cost of operating the equipment.
Placing printers, photocopiers, trash bins, and mail supplies within 50 feet of employees further discourages individualism and encourages team spirit.

3 ADOPT MONITORING SYSTEMS
In times of recession waste must be an aberration. Physical and remote monitoring of operations and use of infrastructure is very important and there are new technological tools that can be used to monitor, the consumption of water, electricity, fuel, etc.

Data analysis from the monitors can be used to benchmark and compare efficient measures to reduce wastages. This will alternatively contribute in cutting down costs and increasing productivity.

4. AVOID INCONSEQUENTIAL AND UNPREPARED EMERGENCIES
It would be an unfortunate experience for a disaster to occur to a business enterprise during a recession. The unexpected incidence could as well cause the death of a business enterprise. For this reason infrastructure managers must pay special attention to the threats that could cause risks to the existence of the organization.

Threats are abound in our environment and they include catastrophic fire, natural occurrence (such as flooding, thunder strike, earth quake etc.), terrorist attack, cyber-attack, civil unrest, explosive detonation.

 While no one prays for a disaster to happen, it is important that disaster preparedness is embedded in the culture of the organization which is an Operational Risk Management element.

5. INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SHARED SERVICES
In my view, shared services should not end within the operations of an organization. It should also be encouraged among organizations within similar geographical area.

For instance, organizations can collaborate and build power plants for their businesses instead of building separate power plants. This can also be implemented in provision of social amenities and facilities for staff across various companies. This arrangement will optimize effective use of infrastructure, minimize wastages, needless redundancy, and underutilization of staff.
“Support must be given as much as possible (to engineers). The training must be right and at the end of the day investment must be made in developing research and development to ensure that everybody go on moving forward,”  Engr Michael Adesanya
Areas where shared services have been cost effective include; Helpdesk, Data Centre co-location, project management office, Information Security, Operational tools, and platforms such as cloud platform or database services.

6. IMPLEMENT INNOVATIVE EQUIPMENT OPERATIONAL AND MAINTENANCE SCHEME
Examples are;
Cost-in-use: this is the request for use of facilities on the need basis. Charging for services on real-time and actual-use basis. By this, Service providers will not bill for equipment that are idle.

Fault call maintenance services:  this scheme could be implemented for equipment that are reliable and durable as well as newly installed equipment for operations. Since these equipment rarely break down and are not too critical for business operations, it is practicable and cost efficient to place their services/maintenance on fault call basis.

Comprehensive maintenance services: In the short-term it can be viewed as expensive, but in the medium to long term it is cost effective particularly when the equipment has high run hours, expensive cost of spare parts and is critical to the operations of the business. It transfers part of the risk of breakdowns to the service providers via an effective Service Level Agreement Contract.

CONCLUSION
It is worthy to note that a recessive economy is a cyclical condition; it will come and go and would not be permanent. However, to survive the recession, Engineers as important members of the business management team must assiduously ensure that innovative solutions are deployed to keep the organization afloat in a recessive business environment.


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