Thursday, February 28, 2013

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 4



All About Procurement Fraud – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting February 2013.

Last time we looked at some of the different types of issues that need to be looked at around procurement. 

Today we will have a look at some more.

As we said one of the ways to limit procurement fraud is to ensure that you have a proper procurement policy in place and that it is adhered to and checked on a regular basis. We looked at the Needs Analysis, Timing and Suppliers.  Other issues that need to be taken into account when implementing the procurement process are (but not limited to):

1.    Supplier Communication
Once you have sourced the supplier, irrespective of whether you have one supplier for each product or several suppliers, you need to obtain quotes and/or ask for a proposal.  It may be that you require additional information pertaining to the product and where it was sourced (for the Eur1 certificate if applicable).  It is important to have the correct contact details of the person that you will be dealing with in order to establish a food working relationship.

If this is a new supplier that you are considering, it is a good idea to get references (which of course must be checked properly). You may require samples so that you can check the quality or find out who to speak with when you have issues around repairs or maintenance or installation etc.  You may what to test samples so need both new and used products in order to conduct same.

Clearly the better the lines of communication the successful the relationship will be, remember to be clear in your expectations and requirements.

2.    Negotiation
I always say that assumption, perception and expectation are the three most dangerous words in the dictionary because they seldom meet reality!

The reality of course is that there will always be negotiation.  The client always wants to pay less for the goods and the seller always wants to sell more products for more money.

Make sure that your expectations are fair and clear.  Is the price right, are the goods readily available and if not what are the time lines for delivery?  Are the products standard or do they have to be customized and if so what does that entail? Delivery schedules should be put into place as well as payment schedules.

If you need to test certain products to ensure quality etc., then this also needs to be documented into your process as well as what the physical tests are as well as what the acceptable levels are in terms of the quality and functionality of the product.

Next time we will have a look at a few more steps that need to address in your procurement process.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, February 25, 2013

MOTIVATION - Don't Put Your Happiness on Hold

MOTIVATION –  Don’t Put your Happiness on Hold

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

Dale Carnegie said “Many people thing that if they were only in some other place, or had some other job, they would be happy.  Well that is doubtful.  So get as much happiness out of what you are doing, as you can and don’t put off being happy until some future date.”

Man oh man! I sure did have a quiet chuckle around this one!

You see I don’t believe that this only applies to your ‘happiness’!  I think that this applies to ‘life’ in general!

How many times during the course of the day do we hear ‘when xyz happens, things will be better or ‘when xyz kicks in things will be better’ or ‘when xyz happens I will feel better’ (insert any other saying that you’ve heard here).

The fact of the matter is that we tend to dwell in the past (and some of us seem to live there on a permanent basis), or live for the future.

What ever happened to the present or the ‘now’?  What  ever happened to living in the moment?  How on earth do you enjoy life if you never take the time to ‘live it’?  We are always over analyzing the past when we know on some level that we cannot change what has already taken place.  We are always over planning the future when logic must tell us that the future can only be determined by what we do in the present!  Yet never quite being present, well present in our own lives, we plan and worry and hope and wish and . . .  well nothing really changes does it?

The reason that nothing really changes is because you are not happy inside of yourself, you are not content with who you are as a person and until you change that or make peace with it, it doesn’t really matter how much money you have, how much power you have, how much you have in terms of worldly possessions, you will never be content or happy.  The only way to change what you are not happy with inside of yourself is to make the decision to change – yip, it’s actually that simple. 

You have to make the decision to see your circumstances differently or to react differently to any given situation or feel differently when you are confronted with a certain set of circumstances.  You have the power to make the change! 

So the next time you feel that you can’t cope because there is no money and things will be better when you do have money, rather think about all the things that you can do with what you have and be amazed and how different you will feel.  You make your own happiness, but you have to make the decision to do so!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Friday, February 15, 2013

HR - What is Dereliction of Duty

HR – What is Dereliction of Duty?

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

The Collins Concise Dictionary defines ‘dereliction’ as “conscious or wilful neglect” (especially of duty), whilst the Dictionary of English Synonyms lists the synonyms as ‘abandonment’ and ‘desertion’.  The meaning therefore is very clear – it is when an employee intentionally or on purpose, if you will, does not perform their tasks or duties.  There are no ‘accidents’ or ‘mistakes’ here – this is deliberate.

Many employers, when charging an employee for some misdemeanour or another, use the incorrect terminology and the term “Dereliction of Duties” has great ominous and serious connotation to it.  This coupled with the fact that it is a dismissible offence, even for the first offence, often makes it a great tool for frightening the hell out of the staff.

Employers – you need to be careful here as charging for the incorrect offence (or even wording the charges incorrectly for that matter) will result in a ‘not guilty’ verdict for the employee!

Let’s have a look at some examples of what can be termed as ‘Dereliction of Duties’.
-    When an employee completely ignores the client he/she is supposed to be serving, in order to complete the cell phone discussion that are having with a friend.
-    When the security guard leaves his post to go home early (or any time for that matter), without a valid reason.
-    When a staff member gives the keys to the safe or passwords of the alarms to an unauthorized colleague, so that they can have an extended lunch or go home early.
-    When an employee leaves the company truck, heavily laden with product, in a dodgy part of town whilst he takes his lady of the moment to the movies.
-    When a machine operator switches off all the safety devices on all the machines that are operated by everyone other than him.
-    When an employee downloads porn from a site that he knows is full of viruses.

Pretty standard stuff, I am sure you will agree although I am equally sure that you now understand the difference between not doing (or doing for that matter) something by accident and doing something that is planned, intended or deliberate.

Clearly then ‘dereliction of duties’ should not be used in instances that have arisen due to misunderstandings or miscommunication or because the staff member lacks adequate skilss or if machinery is faulty or not correctly maintained.

The punishment has to fit the crime and the crime needs to be correctly identified.  Charges that are incorrect will usually be thrown out and/or the employee found ‘not guilty’.

Again clearly, it is in your own best interests as an employer to ensure that you get the correct outcome by keeping your emotions in check and dealing with or presenting the facts calmly and  confidently is always a good thing.

To ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them as well as what the consequences are, if the boundaries are breached, to ensure that you have proper policies and procedures in place and that your line managers (and of course yourself) are properly trained to ensure that discipline and control is maintained.

Finally, make sure that all contraventions to laid down procedures are properly and calmly investigated and that the correct, legally applicable charges and therefore the correct wording is used to prevent additional losses to the company in the form of penalties levied against the employer.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

BLOGGING TIPS - Where Else to Look for Ideas - Part 7

BLOGGING TIPS – Where Else to look for Ideas – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC February 2013

Last time we looked at the opportunities around what the last year brought, Everyday Activities and Hiatus, for inspiration or ideas for articles of interest that pertain to your particular passion.  Today we will have a look at a few more.

Free Writing
I have recently come across a style of blog writing called “Free Writing”.  Now apparently what you do is ensure that you will not be disturbed by phone calls or e-mails etc., decide on a small amount of time (like 10 or 15 minutes), sit down and just start writing.  Don’t worry about your mind wandering, just let your thoughts guide the writing.  Once you are done, you will obviously discard some of what you have written, but you will also be astounded by some of the profound things you have written.

Don’t be scared of your imagination.  Don’t be scared by the playfulness of your inner child, just have fun.

I often use movies, both the big screen and the small screen, that I have recently watched to illustrate a particular point that I am trying to make.  When your readers identify themselves with a favorite actor or actress or indeed even a favorite movie or show, they often ‘get’ the point that you are  trying to make a whole lot easier.

Read fiction
Read fiction – lots of it!  Sure it is also great to read factual type books, but fiction and fantasy are also wonderful.   Quite honestly, they inspire me and I am often amazed by the minds of the authors and how their brains work.  In particular authors like Dean Koontz, who is well known as a ‘horror story’ writer, and what about fantasy writers like J K  Rawling and her tales of Harry Potter or J R R Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series, who wrote of hobbits and fairies and made up languages – what incredible imaginations they must have, what incredible minds . . . .  and their stories . . . that transport you to magical places.  They terrify, they horrify, they intrigue and mystify you but most of all they entertain you and that is exactly what your blog should do – entertain your readers.

Years ago before everyone had a computer or the internet was available to many, I used to travel a great deal for work.  I also have a really great Russian friend Olga, who is married to a Greek chap and who lives on a tiny island in Greece.  We corresponded regularly and I introduced her to this incredible country by mail.  As I travelled and mostly drove to wherever I was going I would compose my letters to her in my head.  From the wide open spaces and “Big Sky” country of the Free State, to the magnificence of the Drakensburg and beauty of the Cape and the breathtaking views in the Eastern Transvaal.

Wherever I visited I bought picture postcards and then told the story of my journey there and what I saw around me.

More than 15 years later we still correspond regularly via SKYPE.  We chat often and she tells me that she often goes back to her bundle of letters and post cards from me, during the long cold winter months and imagines herself travelling those roads and seeing those sights.

I certainly learnt a lot about South Africa as I looked around me and I mean really looked.  There is nothing like having to describe something that you take for granted to make you open your eyes and really see!

Next time we will have a look at some more ideas to keep those blogs flowing. Until then “Happy Writing” and don’t forget to have fun!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, February 11, 2013

MOTIVATION - Choosing Wisely

MOTIVATION –  Choosing Wisely

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

W Clement Stone says “Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”

Life for me has a natural segregation in terms of the people that I choose to associate myself with.  We all know people who we cannot abide in our space – you know the ones that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!  I avoid those.  There are people who you meet for the very first time, who you just get a ‘feeling’ about – you know the ones that something is just not right and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is.  I avoid those too.

There are those folk who are negative about everything – you come away from spending time with them and you are completely and absolutely exhausted and thoroughly depressed, you can barely put one foot in front of the other you are so tired.  I avoid those to, they are definitely not good for the soul.

I am also not too good with people who have hidden agendas.  The ones who say one thing and mean another.  The ones that are always undermining what you say, who twist your words to suit the occasion or even worse, who twist your words to suit whatever issue they happen to be championing. Those are just hard work.

I am a pretty open and transparent person.  What you see is what you get. I say what I mean and I mean what I say.  I am very loyal and very protective of my friends and most of my friends are also business acquaintances and clients – they trust me and I trust them.  Most of my friends are people who have high moral standards, their word is their bond and they believe in being fair, not judging folk on where they work or what they wear, but rather on who they are as people, what they stand for and how they treat people.  Most of my friends strive to make a difference in the world that they live in, they care about their fellow human beings and they lend a hand when and where they can.

I really enjoy being around optimistic people, folk who have great energy.  Folk who make your hearts feel light when they are with you.  Folk who light up the room with their positive personalities.  Folk like most of my friends.

Quite frankly, I am proud to be associated with them, I am proud of their achievements and I am proud to be ‘counted’ with them.  They are like minded individuals who strive and work together for the ‘common good’ and what more can you ask of anyone. 

I am more than happy to know that my life has touched theirs and that their lives have touched mine and I am more than happy to ‘become like them’.

I guess I am well and truly ‘shaped by my environment’.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

BUSINESS TIPS - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 7

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

So far we have looked at:-
1.    The difference between being an employee and an employer;
2.    Your Purpose:
3.    The People around you and
4.    Your Personal Footprint.
5.    Knowledge & what you do with it
6.    The Generosity of your Spirit
7.    The Role of Technology in your Business
8.    Self Confidence
9.    Creativity
10.    Focus
11.    Vision
12.    Result
13.    Networking
14.    Leadership
15.    Management

Believe it or not there are a whole lot more – today we will explore a few more.

1.    Problem Solving
I doubt that there is a single business owner or entrepreneur out there who can honestly say that there is a single day that they don’t have to solve some sort of problem or another.  You have to be able to think outside of the box, change your mindset or your perspective and even think laterally.  Remember each problem that you solve successfully brings you one step closer to your ultimate goal and your success in the long term.

2.    Being Innovative
In keeping with the previous point, all small business owners are innovative in one way or another – yes all of them, even the bookkeepers and accountants.  They have to be in order to compete.  Each business owner or entrepreneur has to find a ‘different’ way to do things.  They each have to make what they offer different to what everyone else offers (and I am not suggesting that anyone does anything illegal here okay!) The more unusual your offering or product, the more likely your company will become valuable.

3.    Teamwork
A task/problem shared is a task/problem halved . . .  There is nothing truer than that, provided of course that you have the right team in place. Even though every team has a leader, someone who carries the ultimate responsibility and accountability, the reality is that a team where everyone contributes to ‘ideas’ as well as the tasks, works better together.  A team where everybody is part of the decision process is stronger as they are all working towards a common goal. Make sure that you have such a team!

4.    Strategy
Winning the Lotto is by chance (provided of course that you have bought yourself a ticket).  Winning in business is because you have planned properly and you have a strategy in place.  Beware that your strategy and planning don’t stay in that stage, remember you need ‘action’ to get the work done and succeed.

Next time we will continue to look at some of the other issues that you will need or be aware of to become a successful Entrepreneur.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, February 04, 2013

MOTIVATION - Why you should succeed

MOTIVATION –  Why you Should Succeed

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2013

Michael Jordan says “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

If the great Michael Jordan attributes his success to his failures, why is it that the majority of folk are so scared of failure?  Why does it make us quiver in our boots, break out in hives and reduces us to tears?  I don’t understand it!

Have I felt fear before – of course I have!  Have I been afraid of failing – of course I have!  I am no different from any one else out there, but here’s the thing – once you understand that we all fail on some level every single day, there is absolutely no reason to fear failure.  Ok, I am not talking about the type of failure that constitutes a life threatening or debilitating situation here – of course that should be looked at separately and individually and the risks taken into account etc.  But I am talking about the everyday failures that we encounter – things like making the wrong career choice and perhaps going into something that you have no passion for as a result of that, or not researching something properly and then purchasing a very expensive something that then does not meet your requirements or even starting a business that just does not get off the ground and you end up going into liquidation.  Yes, those are the everyday failures that many people experience, deal with, get over, learn from and then move on to bigger, grander and more spectacular successes than they ever could imagine.

Why do you think that is?  Are they any different from you and me?  Not really hey!  The one thing that sticks out about them though, is their “mindset”, the way that they react to any given situation that they find themselves in.

I am currently watching Masterchef Australia 2011, yes I know we are in 2013, but we are only watching it now!  There is a young chap that got into the top 50 (I forget his name now), in that particular journey he ended up in 3 consecutive elimination challenges, having failed in the pressure tests.  Gary (one of the judges) asked him why he was grinning from ear to ear on learning that he was once again in an elimination challenge – his response was something like “No worries mate, I get to cook again!”  Most of the other contestants had only cooked once or twice but because he kept finding himself in the bottom 3 and he had to cook his way out of that, he had ended up at this point cooking 5 or 6 times and his take on this was that the more he cooked, the more he showed what he could do and the better he was becoming at it.  The result, he is in the top 24!  How cool is that!  Was he afraid of failing  - I am really sure that he was, but he knew what he wanted to achieve and that is what he focused on.

How do you think Michael Jordan felt standing there, taking a shot that he absolutely knew, could lose the game?  I’m sure he also felt a profound sense of fear and clearly he did not give up, but took the shot anyway.  Was he upset about his failure to deliver the shot – I have no doubt that he was!  Thing is though, he didn’t give up on the game, he went back and practiced more.  He took what he had learnt from missing that particular shot and turned it around and he delivered, time and time again! 

It never stopped him from doing what he loved, he got up, dusted himself off and tried again, doing things slightly differently to ensure that he got a different outcome.  Were all the outcome’s successful – I doubt that too, but the point is he kept going, he kept learning, he kept trying and that is what makes him and all the other successful people out there different.

It’s about us controlling the failure and not the failure controlling us, by taking what we have learnt and applying ourselves to changing the outcome.  It’s about us keeping the objective in mind (and in sight).  It’s about us believing in ourselves and our dreams. 

Quite frankly, it’s about seeing things differently!

So going forward, instead of focusing our attention on beating ourselves up when we haven’t quite reached our goals or indeed our perception of what we need to be in order for us to ‘succeed’, lets’ turn the attention around and the focus on ‘how else can we get there’!

Never lose your dreams or your passions – they are what drive you, they are what makes you want to get up in the morning, they are what makes you want to be all that you can be!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or