Cooperatives considered as business enterprises need to embrace the challenges of the changing business environment. The usual reliance on manual preparations of cooperative records, reports and other documents require gradual shift. Innovations that affect business enterprises locally and internationally provide opportunities for all to be creative. While we belong to various generations, recognizing the essence of change towards global competitiveness makes a difference.
In our attempt to provide some tips to enterprises like cooperatives, we propose the following measures and practices that can enhance the delivery of services to the consumers. It is inherent that we must ensure satisfaction of cooperative member-users and stakeholders that require quality services through effective and efficient interventions. Our ideas might not be the real solution to the problems encountered but may provide insights on how to deal with the changing environment.
Foremost, enterprises must continually improve their service delivery through constant review of policies and ensure quality products and services. Customers and stakeholders gauge the manner how services are rendered and the people involved in the process. Comparison of business operations with similar entities can help identify gaps that need to be addressed. This calls for evaluation of the business operations so that new ideas and approaches may be crafted and introduced. Assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and finding ways to address gray areas may help strengthen the organization towards resiliency in dealing with challenges. The human resource management must also be considered in the assessment. Competencies and areas that require improvement must be identified. Also, potentials and preparedness of personnel to act as heads or supervisors in cases of vacancy must be assured. Career pathing and succession planning plays a vital role in the sustainability of the business operations.
Another way of dealing with change is through benchmarking. This calls for research on current best practices of similar business establishments. Gathering information related to the business enterprise can help management to plan and adopt practices from other business firms. Identifying best practices of other institutions that can be applied or introduce in the business enterprise can possibly bring significant changes.
Moreover, cooperatives must adhere to required standards. Ensuring compliance to set standards can be of help in order that practices employed in the business operations are aligned and conform to industry standards. Some illustrations in the case of cooperatives can be in the preparation of financial reports. Financial statements must be prepared in accordance with the Revised Standard Chart of Accounts (CDA M.C. 2016-06) and the Philippine Financial Reporting Framework for Cooperatives (CDA MC2015-06). Cooperative bookkeepers, internal and external auditors must ensure that the cooperative financial statements follow the prescribed standards. This facilitates comparison of figures and analysis of cooperative data among similar categories.
In addition, measuring cooperative performance through the various tools enables management to focus on developing weak areas while sustaining strong points. Other available tools include CDA M.C. 2017-04 “TOOL FOR ASSESSING PROGRESS OF GENDER EQUALITY IN PRIMARY COOPERATIVES AS SUPPLEMENTAL TO MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR 2013-22; SOCIAL AUDIT REPORT; COOPERATIVE ANNUAL PERDORMANCE REPORT AND THE GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT REPORT. Currently, a system is being developed to integrate all the required reports of CDA and serve as basis in establishing the level of maturity of each cooperative. This shall be pilot tested next year and shall be used by 2020.
Further, cooperatives must harness the presence of information, communication technology (ICT). ICT when properly used can help facilitate transactions through the use of modern gadgets. The fast and reliable information systems allow communication among members and stakeholders in accessing the services and in business transactions.
Furthermore, recent developments show us that business dealings can be done online. Gone are the days when enterprises need to rent or own spacious buildings to serve as stockrooms and business centers. Add to this is to hire employees to man the enterprise. With advanced technologies, one can have a business with virtual transactions with lesser overhead costs.
Finally, it is interesting to note that products and services from ASEAN and other countries flood our markets. The ASEAN Free Trade Agreement is currently implemented with the observation that restrictions had been lifted. Business expansion is now open and the need for Visa before one can enter another ASEAN country is gradually being studied. We have cited this scenario in our previous columns but we would like to reiterate on the need to adapt to the challenges of the fast changing environment. So guys, are we prepared?