CKI Business Solutions

1. The act, method or process of solving a problem.
2. An explanation, clarification, answer, etc.
(Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)

CKI deals in solutions for business. A new piece of software is usually, itself, not a solution. Especially in a large organization, a solution is an integration of various different pieces, starting with an analysis, then perhaps a bright idea, then an application plus a new or revised process or procedure. Almost always, training is also needed so the solution is integrated into the organization.

In order to create a solution, however, one must know one's current state of operation ("existing scene") is and where one wants to be or should be (the "ideal scene"). One must also know the factors or strategies that must be included or resolved to achieve the desired result. Sometimes an organization knows exactly what it is trying to achieve, and wants the most efficient, least costly or most flexible answer. However, an organization may simply know it needs to do something, but either lacks resources or does not know exactly what to do (or else the organization itself would have achieved a solution!). In other instances, an organization, through disconnects of information or analysis, may not even know that it has something to solve!

Why our Solutions Work

No matter what the situation, CKI can assist. We are experts in communication, observation and analysis. More to the point, we are problem solvers. We have methodologies and tools to produce a solution that is useful to your organization. As a business philosophy, CKI operates on several principles that always achieve uniform benefit for our clients:

  • We deliver solutions.
  • The best solution is usually one that benefits the greatest number of users or divisions. Solutions should not "cause" additional problems.
  • A process, procedure, system or user should be able to produce a uniform, duplicatable result on each use. This is very important, and is not standardly understood in business. It is the essence of standards and best practices. Literally, one should be able to perform a specific task and get the exact same result each time. We implement and train toward this objective - that predictable results can be obtained routinely over time.
  • The user community must derive direct benefit from the solution. A user community must perceive value in order for it to adopt usage.
  • No implementation or solution has any value unless it is UNDERSTOOD and USED. We provide the tools and training necessary move the organizational culture into acceptance and use of business solutions.
  • We deliver value-added to the client's organization.
  • We gauge our services from the perspective of return-on-investment. Our solutions and proposals define a distinct ROI that is understandable to our clients.
  • We heavily utilize our "exterior" view (not caught up in the client's day-to-day operations). We frequently identify unseen organizational holes, "bleeding," and potentials for efficiency. We surface these issues and present solutions in accordance with the above tenets.
  • We try to utilize inexpensive but robust off-the-shelf applications that are not cost-prohibitive to the client.

Here's another way to look at what we do. Every business has its high level strategies and future goals. Often a large, nationwide consulting firm is brought in to crystallize these predominant goals. What happens, though, once this is done? The organization's executives know where to go, but they don't necessarily know how to get there.

Let's be honest. Sometimes an organization can benefit from a new company-wide software/hardware platform, but this is not always necessary. It is always costly. Getting from A to B without a tremendous financial outlay, consultants haunting the halls for years, or a new application with only 60% of its functions activated and generic training does not get the organization where it needs to go. Most of the time, existing staff lacks the time, focus or coordination to move the program further. And unfortunately, even after great cost, this can be where the big consulting houses stop.

CKI's role is to see where the organization or a division wants to go, what existing resources it has, and what tools (off-the-shelf applications, forms, reports, policies, processes, etc.) will unify existing resources to achieve its goals. Put another way, we are the nitty-gritty guys. CKI gets into the trenches, interviews you and your staff, strategizes with you and finds innovative answers to solve problems. More often than not we surface issues or liabilities previously unrecognized that can be solved in the process.

We know your business is unique. However, there are specific trouble spots and conditions that are common to most every organization, and there are exact methodologies that work uniformly in any organization. We know these and use them.

Diverse Solutions

Probably the best way to demonstrate our versatility is by illustration. Here are some real-life examples from our case files:

When an Organization Knows Exactly What It Wants

Case Study

A manufacturer needed to produce its yearly new product rollout campaign for a major retail customer. It needed to present the product materials simultaneously to 5000 staff in 680 locations. Further, this customer's sales had been inadequate the previous year, and it wanted to fire up its customer's retail staff on the new product line.

CKI knew that the only to find out why this retail chain was not selling up to par was to talk directly to the people who sold the products. CKI conducted interviews of sales staff at numerous locations and determined what the sales staff needed in order to more effectively sell the product. They needed an understanding of the proprietary technology our client used and general sales techniques.

CKI then fashioned a product rollout that included a catchy video (with one of our affiliates) and a sales technique/product/technology booklet. The presentation was coordinated for presentation to all stores within the same one-week period. The presentation included a feedback survey and a contest to win a product. The client received a 75% response to the survey, indicating that the retail staff had a greater understanding of general sales as well as the particular technology of the product. This resulted in a very large, unexpected order from the customer.

Case Study

An organization with a large international sales force needed to train its sales staff on sales forecasting and how forecasting directly influenced the manufacturing schedule. The bulk of the forecasting theory resided with one person, who would also be conducting the training. CKI debriefed this individual fully. We created PowerPoint and written training materials detailing sales and manufacturing lead time theory and formulas. The materials also introduced and demonstrated a new forecasting tool the individual had devised.

Case Study

CKI is in discussions with a high tech organization that has valuable technical data on paper that would greatly benefit a half dozen departments in four or five divisions. However, these paper documents are not accessible in their present state. We propose capturing these documents electronically (as graphic images), placing them online and making them fully text-searchable so that they can become a tremendous, usable asset. The organization benefits immediately as it can "see" what has been done in the past. This will reduce their R & D, proposal and testing costs - they can stop re-inventing the wheel. CKI will provide the following: Hardware, software, document scanning, the setup, cataloguing and installation as well as a maintenance contract. We will also train the user groups to make them power users, teaching them how to cut and paste images to build technical papers fast. The organization estimates it will have its return on investment in 6-8 months.

Case Study

An organization has a website to represent itself electronically, but it still needs valuable content. This company has a 50% market share in the U.S. but just 300 customers worldwide. It lacks the staff to create a meaningful web resource other than a simple order checking capability. They can utilize their electronic "real estate" by creating and cataloguing data valuable to the customer and to their industry as a whole. We have already digitally photographed 1000 of their most frequently ordered parts, identified and cross-referenced them with part numbers and these have been placed on their website. Because it is an industry leader, it wants to position itself further by adding valuable customer information regarding trends and equipment, and encouraging additional content contribution by opinion leaders. The organization's overall market strategy is to become a clearinghouse for its industry. This plan allows the organization to deliver a distinct value-added to both customer and industry, while utilizing an existing resource.

When an Organization Knows it Need to do Something

Case Study

A very large publicly traded organization needed a systematic approach to cataloguing its fixed assets. Its fixed assets were collateralized. The organization paid taxes on local assets valued at three-quarters of a billion dollars, but approximately 20% of the assets were not on the local premises (they were paying about $200,000 a year in excess of their actual assets). CKI determined who were the key individuals possessing the information, conducted interviews across the organization to determine the extent of recordkeeping and the actual inventory of assets. CKI discovered that this organization had transferred fixed assets to branches in other countries, and that individual departments were selling off equipment independently. Needless to say, this was a balance sheet nightmare, not to mention a threat in terms of accelerated payments and/or default against their collateralized loans.

CKI devised and implemented a system to identify and catalogue every fixed asset. We created an approval and reporting process for moving and/or liquidating assets, and created a database and reporting system for logging and tracking the assets. We also produced online and paper training materials for understanding and managing fixed assets. We trained all involved staff on the new processes and procedures. We also trained a selected fixed asset custodian on how to maintain the overall system. Result: The organization now has a correct value of its fixed assets, and the movement and disposal of assets is positively controlled. Its lenders are happy, the tax assessments are accurate and the "bleeding" has definitely stopped.

Case Study

The Accounts Receivable department of a multinational manufacturing organization was trying to process large numbers of return materials authorization (RMA) credits, most of which had been open for 120 days or more. Further, customers were taking return credits before even returning the materials. The organization had multiple database platforms and could not capture usable reports to analyze either the particulars or the total extent of the RMAs. CKI's initial investigations found "problem" RMAs that had been sitting for one to two years, as well as competitor materials being returned by customers, and credit issued! We executed a multi-pronged approach to this situation. First, we implemented a reporting tool that captured data across multiple platforms, and devised various reports to help the AR department fully view the extent of the RMAs - by customer, by return reason, length of time the RMA was open, and so on. The initial reports identified 18 pages of open RMAs, the majority of which had been open 120 days or longer, with a value in the tens of millions of dollars!

Through interviews, CKI found that another area of the organization had strict return standards dictated by federal policy and that their RMA load was significantly less. We also verified the existing RMA policy, including dollar-value signatory authority. Then, by coordinating Accounts Receivable, Customer Service and the Receiving areas, CKI and these departments gained approvals for new procedures. We created a system to verify and document RMAs, including whether the returned material reason was correct and to catch other exceptions (using online forms and digital images as documentation for AR). An understanding between the departments of necessary documentation, dollar value authorization levels and how to determine if customers were abusing their privilege was established. A regular communication channel on this issue was also established between all concerned departments. Within 120 days, the dollar value of open RMAs was reduced to about one eighth, and the average length an RMA was open was under 45 days.

Case Study

A marketing manager who ran one of his multi-national organization's production lines could not collect data across the organization's multiple platforms as to customer orders and actual production costs in the other divisions. This information was vital to his job. His solution was to run various paper reports from these different platforms, and have his secretary manually enter the data so that spreadsheets and reports could be built. This time-consuming "system" was the result of 5 years of this manager's efforts. CKI installed an off-the-shelf application with cross-platform data gathering abilities and built reports according to the manager's parameters that could be run in about two minutes. The reports allowed the manager to view the information on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Case Study

A financial institution was ready to implement new system architecture and retained CKI to perform the testing and implementation. The organization had already invested $13 million in the project. CKI discovered that the implementation was premature; that without further preparation the implementation would result in interrupted customer service and would lose the organization a lot of clients. Although not a locally popular move, CKI raised these concerns with senior management, which did its own review and agreed. The implementation was rescheduled until the issues could be resolved and/or worked around with no harm to the customer relationships.

Case Study

Another organization has a number of divisions in different locations. Some locations are more efficient in their processes than others, but there is currently no efficient or convenient means to share this valuable data without physical travel and meetings (usually after a problem arises). We can create an application so all groups can gain access to innovations and best practices information rapidly, including key knowledge contacts and how to reach them. This coordination will quickly migrate best practices across all locations, improving the efficiency of the entire organization.

As you can see, we tackle and handle diverse issues. What's more, we like it! Our professional team is not afraid to "get its hands dirty," and follow through to a workable solution for our clients. We are literally a one-stop shop for your project or challenge.