How We Help Carriers

January 28th, 2013

We help carriers manage and reduce the cost of their network. (For more on network cost management read the link.)

Complementary Promotion
Carriers are eligible for a complementary analysis of their recurring IT and carrier costs for potential savings. Savings for many firms range from 20-50%. Berlin Pacific not only recommend cost savings it also implements and documents them.

We help with IT support and maintenance contracts with OEMs like Juniper, Dell, EMC, IBM, Nortel, etc.
http://www.berlinpacific.com/docs/IT_Maintenance.pdf

We also help carriers reduce their carrier costs
http://berlinpacific.com/docs/Continual_Improvement_Best_Practices_for_TEM.pdf

Helping firms reduce costs as diverse as

• Applications (Services):
o Voice termination
o Voice origination
o IP Transit
o CNAM
o LNP
o LIDB
o 8XX

• Indirect fees for supporting applications:
o Transport/Connectivity: TDM
o Transport/Connectivity: SS7 Links

Berlin Pacific has worked with diverse organizations. Consulting clients include firms like Wal-Mart and RSM McGladrey, the 5th largest accounting firm in the US.

Comments on “Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In the USA”

August 31st, 2011

There’s a recent Forbes article on “Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In the USA”
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/08/17/why-amazon-cant-make-a-kindle-in-the-usa/

It is quite interesting and people can learn a lot from Steve Denning about management. The article is a bit problematic though. The issue is probably more that the tone and content are misleading than that the fundamental ideas are totally off.

For one Dell makes a lot more money than Asus in profits and has as many employees. Its market cap is still much larger than Asus.

The implication of the article is that the Kindle probably couldn’t be made in any one country. (Interestingly too Germany still makes the machines that make the machines. Japan and the US do too.)

The classic essay ‘I, Pencil’ from 1958 talks about how no one can make a pencil.
http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html
This is true about the international economy.

Apple is winning because it banks on designing its products in California and getting them built abroad. I don’t think they’re an exception at all. They’re the exemplar.

The author is right about throughput accounting though. Most companies don’t realize that this is an important way to help the align their business with customer demand. People should learn more about the Theory of Constraints www.scribd.com/doc/24192653/TOC-and-Mises . They’ve shown that many management theories apply bad economic theory – though they don’t approach it from the perspective of economic theory. (They complement the Austrian School quite well.)

I think his article is a bit misleading. It is true companies should not give up their core competency. However Dell could have grown more by creating more products that wow consumers and outsourced much of the production. That’s what Apple does.

He doesn’t seem to fully account for opportunity costs. Dell can find only so many workers. It is wasteful to use them to make things Asus can make IF it can find other useful thing for them to do. On a national scale this is true – expanding companies will bid up the price of US workers. This makes companies in older technology sectors less willing to hire many of them. U.S. Manufacturing is still huge – it just requires less workers. Also many workers may be vital but don’t count as traditional manufacturing workers. How would you count a bunch of highly paid engineers who manage a highly automated factory?

His point too is really about management – not so much manufacturing.

The key is not so much decreasing costs, as increasing the productive capacity of your assets to produce more goods and services that people will pay for. That’s throughput accounting and his real point. (In a sense though this can imply decreasing costs by finding unproductive uses assets and re-allocating those assets.)

Sometimes that means outsourcing though. Microsoft has or had a very profitable group that had few employees – they designed keyboards and mice etc. and outsourced all production. It was a good use of Microsoft’s assets to outsource.

Hopefully more people will be inspired by the article to learn more about throughput accounting and theory of constraints and put the focus on aligning productive assets with consumer demand.

Reducing Credit Card Processing Costs News

August 30th, 2011

We’ve made some interesting discoveries lately that could save your organization a lot of money on the cost of processing credit cards. This applies to people using Chase Paymentech and non-profits accepting American Express cards.

Chase Paymentech
The first item of interest is that if you’re a customer of Chase Paymentech, odds are you’re subject to a substantial billing error. We naturally won’t document on this blog how Chase Paymentech might be doing this. But we’re definitely available to take a look at your current bills. You can probably get a credit going back one year.

This also means that we’ll be able to use this opportunity to negotiate a better deal on your behalf.

Again, this isn’t a promise, but other firms are finding extraordinary savings.

If you’re a Chase Paymentech customer we definitely recommend you contact us.

Non-Profits and American Express
The second item is that we’ve had a 100% success rate helping non-profits substantially reduce the rate for processing American Express cards. We can help you work with the right people at American Express to quickly and painlessly reduce the costs of getting your donations via American Express cards.

We definitely encourage any non-profit to call us.

Better than money back guarantee
Remember there is no cost to discover if we can help you substantially reduce the costs of processing credit cards, be it with Chase Paymentech, American Express cards, or other processors. Any fees come out of your savings. There is no investment or risk on your part.

Fast Lookups in Excel

April 21st, 2011

How do you get excel to quickly perform 160,000 lookups against 160,000 different unique records and get an exact match, for a total of up to 25,600,000,000 different operations?

Basically there is a fast way to do this that quickly produces results in a minute or so – and a slow way to do this that checks all combinations and could take hours.

    The fast way is to use IF formula to check if index match found an exact match on a sorted table, if it did not then don’t use the result, if it did then use the result.
    =IF(A3=INDEX(‘Rate Table’!$B$1:$B$145390,MATCH(O3,’Rate Table’!$B$1:$B$145390)),INDEX(‘Rate Table’!$A$1:$A$145390,MATCH(A3,’Rate Table’!$B$1:$B$145390)),”NONE”)

Why would you need to do this?

Maybe you have a huge list of names and you want to look up their phone number in a directory, or vice versa.

In our case we were analyzing the costs of 160,000 different phone calls against different rate plans. Each call could be billed at any of 160,000 different rate plans. (While consumer rates are simple – wholesale rates are quite complex – all numbers starting with the NPA NXX 212-555 may have a different rate from all numbers starting with 212-556.)

You want excel to look at the call and see where the call was made to and what the rate should be. For example a call is to the 212-555 NPA NXX. You therefore look up on the rate table what the rate is for calls to the 212-555 NPA NXX. You then have excel do this for every call you make.

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The Management Myth

April 13th, 2011

This is a good article in The Atlantic – The Management Myth.

Summary:
Most of management theory is inane, writes our correspondent, the founder of a consulting firm. If you want to succeed in business, don’t get an M.B.A. Study philosophy instead

Notes:
Philosophy is important. A key question should be – how do we know? With our prospective clients we’ve noticed that those who aren’t interested in working with us usually think there’s no room for improvement – however they have no way of knowing that. In fact everything they say indicates there is room for improvement. Since the areas we help aren’t part of the core business we believe it isn’t a priority for the business, which is why they should hire an outside expert. Businesses hire outside people to do their taxes. They also focus on their core competency – they don’t try to deliver their own packages overnight they use fedex. However these outside experts usually don’t understand the business of their clients as well as their clients – so they have to be careful to not fall in the trap of cookie cutter recommendations and leverage the knowledge and expertise of their clients.

It is interesting how in many fields people will talk about and do what sounds good without actually checking to see what the results really are.

It is particularly interesting his comments about Taylorism – people might want to read John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education. Many of the ‘features’ of schooling come from the assumption that ordinary people are too dumb to do things well and must be trained by experts, when in fact ordinary people can do quite a lot once they put their mind to it.

The article notes how many consultants don’t show or track results. At Berlin Pacific we actually track the results of our projects. We can prove bottom line results. And of course we charge for it.

People may also be interested in Theory of Constraints/TOC and Market Based Management. Both are focused on making money – i.e. cash flow. That is probably why Koch industries has revenue of around $100 billion. The Measurement Nightmare goes in to some detail as to how measure performance – it and The Goal are great TOC books to start with.

Interview with O’Neal Steel

February 1st, 2011

Prime Advantage, an amazing industrial buying group we encourage our manufacturing clients to work with, did a great interview with O’Neal Steel. O’Neal steel is a leading large steel company (service center) with dozens of locations and thousands of employees, exactly the kind of company we like to work with. They’re family owned and have been in business for 90 years. Fantastic people.

Here is a link to the Interview. We’ll include the text below.

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Save Money with R+D Tax Credits

January 27th, 2011

If your company pays federal taxes, like many you may not know all about the new IRS federal tax credits of 6.5 % for all spending on product development, especially employee salaries. Many companies aren’t aware of these new tax rules and just how much more is covered today, but our tax experts are.

The credit can go back 3 years plus the current year. The credit comes off your federal tax bill.

Any company that designs, develops, or improves products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions, or software may be eligible. In fact, if a company has simply invested time, money, and resources toward the advancement and improvement of its products and processes, it may qualify.

Example – you spend $200,000 a year on employees who develop products. You qualify and get a $12,500 in credit off your federal tax bill per year, and you can go back three years plus save this year. That is $50,000 saved. Our experts told us the IRS is happy because you’re providing jobs. There may be additional credits for state taxes.

There is no charge to find out if you can save. It is a four minute conversation with our subject matter experts to find out if you qualify. Our tax experts are saving companies $20,000 to $750,000.

We encourage any CFOs, or Controller, or Accountants to reach out to us with an e-mail or call 212-247-2502.

What Qualifies as R+D?
You may wonder if your firm has spending that qualifies. “Qualifying research” runs the gamut from initiating designs, to testing products, to manufacturing process improvements. The great thing about this is that many companies spend money on developing products. Because of the current broad definition, if you’re involved with any of these things you may be eligible for R+D Tax Incentives.

  • Designing new products including software or materials
  • Designing innovative product features or techniques
  • Generating prototypes and samples of new products – for testing and validation
  • Developing new or improved treatments for materials
  • Developing new or improved manufacturing processes
  • Developing and designing scaled up manufacturing processes

R+D Tax Credits are awarded across a wide range of diverse activities, and our expert can determine what credits are available for your company. We think you’ll be surprised how much qualifies.

We will be happy to schedule a 15 minute conversation, either by phone or in person, to determine if you qualify for this and other government sponsored incentive program. We would like to put tax dollars back in your pocket. Please e-mail or call us at 212-247-2502.

Our Short Presentation

January 10th, 2011

Our Short Presentation can be found here can be found here.

Our you can view it here if you have firefox, but the more info links don’t work.
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How Mortgage Industry Problems parallel Vendor Cost Management

December 30th, 2010

Today’s news shows that Allstate is suing Countrywide (owned by Bank of America) for misrepresenting the mortgage investments Countrywide sold Allstate.

You can read a good analysis here.
http://www.zerohedge.com/article/how-allstate-used-sampling-confirm-bofacountrywide-lied-about-virtually-everything-selling-m?goback=.gde_40850_member_38750536

Allstate claims to have had no idea what is was really buying, just like most firms have no idea what they’re really buying from their telecom vendors and if they could or should have paid less.

The root problem was that Countrywide apparently systematically did not collect valid information. (Many loans were ‘liar loans.’) Lacking good information Allstate bought investments it didn’t actually want (it wanted AAA securities.) Similarly Countrywide apparently did not report that many approved mortgages (around 20% sometimes more) were ‘exceptions’ to Countrywide’s underwriting standards. Countrywide management appears to have been aware that their loans didn’t meet their underwriting standards and information about the borrowers income, value of the home, etc. was often false but they didn’t do anything to disclose this to investors.

You can read the allegations here
http://www.scribd.com/doc/46005151/12-28-10-1
It is a very interesting document.

It is interesting to learn that the exact same problems (lack of visibility, lack of information, use of misleading aggregates) that we see in our clients’ spend on vendor purchases also plagued institutional investor spending on purchases of investments. However this mortgage mess was apparently systemic outright misrepresentation by the underwriters. We find vendors simply don’t provide the information clients need to make an informed decision, and they’re certainly under no obligation to provide it. A huge moral difference on the part of the sellers, but as far as the buyer is concerned the outcome is the same. Interestingly in both cases some important information isn’t even readily available to the sellers let alone the buyers.

Apparently Allstate went to the trouble of checking out many of the individual loans and found huge discrepancies between the reality of the applicants and what Countrywide had stated about the quality of the applicants. This is similar to what we do, our goal is to check EVERY single service to make sure it is adding value and is not misbilled, underused, or overpriced.

One has to wonder though why no one at Allstate did any due diligence sampling of the underlying loans before they bought them…

Presumably because they were too busy and they had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. Too bad they were wrong.

Volume Commitment Telecom Agreements: With a Focus on AT&T’s MARC Contracts and You

December 1st, 2010


Telecom Expense Reduction

 

This is an in depth how-to guide for IT, finance, procurement, and legal, and relevant to telecom and IT contracts generally. Readers are encouraged to contact us for a full more official version of this guide.

 

 

We’ve found that many of our clients come to us with signed Volume Commitments, especially AT&T contracts with MARCs (Minimum Annual Revenue Commitments.) Unfortunately many firms fail to protect themselves from problems they didn’t see coming, yet in retrospect the problems were inevitable given how the vendors operate.

 

“This is not easy. MARC and similar-type contracts can be very challenging to negotiate and manage to everyone’s advantage” -Ken M. CIO

 

Without realizing it, firms can easily end up spending substantially more, be it 10%, 20% or more, in absolute dollars than they expected, or spend 10 to 20% or more per service on average than expected over the life of the contract. Either scenario wipes out most firms anticipated savings from a new contract. For those firms who do realize the problem, it is usually too late to do anything about it. Many never do.

 

You can learn below some ways to protect yourself from unpleasant and expensive surprises. We have included an extensive list of key items to look out for with volume commitment contracts and then for contracts in general. You may wish to literally check these off through the contract process, or create a checklist spreadsheet. First we’ll present some background. Feel free to skip ahead to the actionable items in Key MARC Checklist Items.

 

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