Working In Uncertainty

Consulting services from Matthew Leitch

If you are interested in managing risk more effectively as an integral part of core management activities (e.g. planning, design, evaluation, objective setting, decision-making) I can help you understand this idea in a practical way and develop better ways to work in uncertainty. This could contribute to your performance and/or promote a risk control programme or other initiative.

Most projects are initiated by clients but I help to refine the early thinking and turn interesting ideas into workable plans. My projects are usually delivered in stages, especially where innovation is required (which it usually is). Typically, what I bring is a lot of knowledge and ideas, combined with some technical wizardry.

Consequently, I don't have standardised services that I try to sell. Here are some examples of past projects.

United Kingdom Accreditation Service - forecasting project

The problem to be solved was unreliable, time consuming forecasting and reforecasting of year end financial results. Their idea was that perhaps it would be possible to replace their laborious and subjective forecasting procedure with something easier and more statistically based. It was, as my analysis of past results showed. The new approach was more accurate and less detailed than before, objective, and got people to focus on what they would do differently to improve results rather than on tweaking numbers.

The simple spreadsheets and macros I developed provided a basic statistical extrapolation and another forecast showing the estimated impact of doing something different. All this appeared on graphs that gave instant feedback as new ideas were introduced into the business plan.

Waste management group in Dublin - accounting rescue project

A group of companies based in Dublin were in crisis after a series of poor decisions left them with perhaps the worst accounting department I've ever come across. Their newly appointed head of finance asked me to help and we came up with a plan.

To help them tackle the huge backlog of accounting errors that needed to be understood and corrected or written off I did some spreadsheet wizardry using their database system and some Excel formulae. I produced tools that helped them track down errors quickly that they had been unable to sort out before.

The tools for intercompany balances and fixed assets were particularly powerful, with graphs showing where and when imbalances had arisen. The accountants still had to work really hard to get everything done but they were successful.

Training organization in Turkey - going beyond budgetary control

A training company in Turkey wanted to show its owners that the companies were well controlled and not wasteful but did not want to rely on budgetary control to do it.

I designed new reports for them that provided insight into actual results without reliance on comparisons with budgets. These reports showed far more than the existing budgetary control reports. For example, the new ratios showed how revenue was split between employees and owners and the new graphs clarified when and where past accounting errors had occurred, allowing the board to appreciate recent improvements in accounting.

I developed new planning tools for the conference organising team, saving them time and also producing spread forecasts automatically on an almost continuous basis.

In a later stage I designed a new spreadsheet format to support bids that turned the document from being a list of costs into a schedule of deliveries with associated benefits, from which costs were calculated and recalculated instantly. This was easier and more reliable, and much more attractive to customers.

Central government - meaningful risk analysis for Internal Audit

The internal audit team of a large UK government department realised that its audit documentation and testing lacked precision and proper evidence. We devised a series of educational events to help turn things around.

One of the key problems turned out to be their uncritical adoption of all the latest guidance on how to do internal auditing, including advice to start from risk analyses. Their risk analyses were mushy and chaotic, and that meant their audits were too. I showed them how to do risk analyses quickly but in a rigorous and structured way.

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Company: The Ridgeway Expertise Company Ltd, registered in England, no. 04931400.

Registered office: 29 Ridgeway, KT19 8LD, United Kingdom.

Words © 2011, 2015 Matthew Leitch