Business Plan for a Market Research Company
Business Plan for a Research and Advisory Services Firm
in the Information Technologies Industry
Business Description and Staffing Plan
The continued growth of research and advisory services in the information technologies (it) industry continues to accelerate given the highly disruptive nature of cloud computing, increased adoption of analytics and the continued acceptance of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based enterprise software applications. The intent of this business plan is to define the proposed research and advisory firm and the benefits it will provide to clients. Also included is a thorough analysis of form this business will take, the chart of accounts, applicable Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), pro forma balance sheets, valuation of assets and recommendations for implementing internal controls. As the proposed firm is private, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) reporting compliance requirements do not apply (Schneider, Valenti, 2010). Paradoxically however, SOX is a potential source of revenue for the firm, as publically-held enterprises are often challenged to ensure their information systems and financial reporting processes are in compliance to the SOX standard. SOX will be evaluated from the context of a potential revenue stream for the research and advisory firm as a result.
The Firm’s Value Proposition
The fundamental value proposition for the advisory firm is guiding enterprises to make more insightful decisions about how and where they invest in it systems to better accomplish their goals. This includes the overall development of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration strategies and the development of large-scale Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation plans. This advisory firm will also provide guidance on how to implement SaaS-based Sales Force Automation (SFA) applications throughout sales teams to ensure they are as effective as possible in selling products and services.
General Staffing Plan
The general staffing plan for the proposed research and advisory services firm will be based on three initial practice areas that include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and System Integration. A Practice Partner will run each of these three areas, with each practice area also having senior consultants who will work with enterprise accounts to determine the best combination of software to meet their specific needs. The staffing plan will include two senior consultants in each practice area, in addition to ten implementation engineers across the entire company. The staffing plan will also include two full-time positions in the finance and accounting department, a total of seven positions in enterprise sales, three full-time sales operations positions, two positions managing the internal it staff for managing the firm’s own computing systems and four full-time positions in the executive management staff. The total staff of the proposed research and advisory firm will initially number 37.
Form and Structure of the Business
The proposed it research and advisory firm will be structured as a private corporation to ensure the confidentiality of the financial data, including investor’s shares and return on shareholder equity. The designation as a private corporation will also allow the advisory firm to be considered a separate and unique legal entity, apart from the shareholders who collectively own int. The shareholders will also elect a broad of directors who will oversee investments in each of the three strategic practice areas of CRM, ERP and System Integration. This form and structure of business is the best possible one for the research and advisory firm in that it also provides for a stable foundation to generate funds for growth through stock issuance, in addition to protecting the officers and employees from legal proceedings that are specifically focused on the corporation as its own entity. These many benefits are well-aligned with the knowledge management and trusted advisor roles the proposed research and advisory services firm provides.
Chart of Accounts
Use of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
As the proposed it research and advisory services firm is based in the United States and initially all customers are based there, accounting systems and revenue recognition will be defined using the GAAP financial reporting methods. As the Securities and Exchange Commission and the international accounting organizations work to create a more unified financial reporting standard that includes both GAAP and IFRS, the two most significant factors are the classification of deferred tax assets and liabilities on the balance sheet and the classification of expenses on the income statement (Henry, Lin, Yang, 2009). First with the classification of deferred tax assets and liabilities on the income statement, for purposes of IFRS compliance, all amounts are classified as non-current in the balance sheet (Henry, Lin, Yang, 2009). In the income statement classification of expenses, according to the IFRS rulings at present, entities may present expenses based on either function or nature, which is more expansive that the SEC’s definition of reporting only on function alone. The IFRS standard requires also defining the nature of expenses be included in the notes of financial statements as well (Henry, Lin, Yang, 2009). IFRS and GAAP convergence share an accrual-based accounting foundation and also share the same financial statements, yet IFRS is more constrictive and views each reporting period not as part of the annual results of a firm but their specific performance for 90 days (Henry, Lin, Yang, 2009). For a new firm including the proposed research and advisory firm, having a GAAP-based financial reporting system is the best possible approach as it gives the company greater flexibility in growing without having to report every single transaction and cost in a given period.
Pro Forma Balance Sheet and Income Statement
Recommendation of Two Internal Controls
The two most valuable assets on the balance sheet are the cash & short-term investments and the net plant, property and equipment Both of these assets are indispensable to the long-term growth of the research and advisory services firm. Beginning with the cash and short-term investments, a series of authentication technologies will be put into place to ensure no one can unilaterally make a withdrawal from these systems. The cash and short-term investment account will also require the Controller and Chief Financial Officer’s approval to gain access to it and pay expenses. Safeguards on the plant, property and equipment will be put into place using asset tagging and extensive use of asset management technologies. The wireless and Wi-Fi-enabled devices will be hard-coded to the specific locations in the firm’s offices they are located in so they will be inoperable anywhere else. This can be accomplished through the use of relatively simple programming codes within the networking equipment itself. The smartphones, tablet PCs and laptops will all be coded with specific operating system enhancements to erase their entire contents at power-up on any Wi-Fi network once it is discovered they are stolen. This technology is available today and will safeguard all data on every Wi-Fi enabled device. The internal it systems will be protected with an advanced firewall technology and the ability to selectively define roles and access points throughout the consulting firm as well (Malecki, 2012).
Implementing Control Recommendations Internally
Cash and short-term investment safeguards will be accomplished through the use of enterprise software specifically designed for this purpose. There are software applications that can be configured specifically for managing access to finance and accounting system including all cash and short-term investment accounts. Biometrics and the use of retina scanning will be used for this purpose as well, as it allows for more precise identification of specific persons who have been screened and approve for access to the accounting and financial management systems. Today within both the Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems there are options for immediately having any device completely wiped clean of data, and this includes any iPhone, iPad, iPad2 or Apple laptop (Cox, 2009). Google’s Android operating system can also completely wipe the entire contents of a device once it has been registered as stolen the next time it is powered up on any Wi-Fi network (Hamblen, 2012). This can be defined at the system level of the consultancy’s network architecture. Finally the firewall of the systems will be defined also through the definition of system parameters throughout the network operating system running the entire firm (Malecki, 2012). There will be little resistance to change for each of these implementations as they are designed to protect and streamline the work being completed in the firm. There will also be a clearer sense of accountability over data security once the Practice Leaders and senior consultants realize that if they accidentally lose their iPhone, iPad or laptop all data will be erased immediately, which forces them to be more vigilant how they uses these systems and also how they are backed up.
Impact of the Regulatory Environment
As the proposed research and advisory firm is a private corporation, it does not need to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act as that is a series of laws only for publically-traded companies (Schneider, Valenti, 2010). Ironically the SOX Act is an ideal market for the proposed advisory firm as many enterprises are challenged to get the most from their it spending in a highly controlled and compliance-driven industry that many are in. This area presents significant revenue opportunities for the proposed research and advisory firm as a result. There are additional government regulatory requirements on businesses of all sizes, and the primary role of the Chief Financial Officer is to also mitigate all risks of these laws and governances by building a team of attorneys, tax experts and compliance thought leaders to keep the firm free of the unnecessary costs of these initiatives while working to transform them into catalyst of market growth.
Cox, J. (2009). iPhone winning over it security skeptics. Network World, 26(34), 1-1,12.
Hamblen, M. (2012). iPhone 5: Pros and cons in the enterprise. Computerworld, 46(17), 6-6.
Henry, E., Lin, S., & Ya-wen Yang. (2009). The European-U.S. “GAAP gap”: IFRS to U.S. GAAP form 20-F reconciliations. Accounting Horizons, 23(2), 121-150.
Malecki, F. (2012). Next-generation firewalls: Security with performance. Network Security, 2012(12), 19-20.
Schneider, M., & Valenti, a. (2010). The effects of “going private” using private equity: The newly private corporation and the dimensions of corporate performance. Business and Society Review, 115(1), 75.
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