1. Welcome!

This assessment tool can be used to get a reasonable impression of the quality of the most important practices in your for-profit business.

It takes about 30 minutes to complete the tool -- and with be WELL WORTH YOUR TIME! It can be done completely on-line. Your information in the assessment will not be shared with anyone else.

You could use results of this assessment tool to: 1) ensure a strong foundation from which to add a product or undertake a major change effort; 2) do an internal analysis as part of an overall strategic planning activity; 3) develop a common understanding among leaders regarding what needs to be done in your business; and 4) assess how the operations in your business compare to various "best practices."

Different assessment tools work from a variety of different perspectives. For example, some focus primarily on business practices and operations. Others focus primarily on the feelings and beliefs of members of the organization. This tool focuses primarily on business practices and operations.

The assessment tool is divided into different categories of specific performance indicators, including: Legal, Boards, Human Resources, Strategic Planning, Market Research, Advertising, Public Relations, Customer Service and Sales, and Financial Management.

Each indicator is marked as Essential (“E”), Recommended (“R”), or Additional (“A”) practices for the typical business.

Next to each specific indicator are choices, including “Met,” “Needs Work,” “Not Applicable,” and “Don’t Know.” After reading each indicator, place a check mark under the appropriate choice as to how your business performs to that indicator.

After you have completed the assessment, print out the results by using the "Print" command in your browser (probably available by clicking on the "File" command). Notice which areas need work, especially those marked "E".

References to Boards of Directors apply to businesses formed as corporations.

NOTE: Your business will benefit most if additional leaders in your business can complete the same tool, all results are compiled into one overall report, and then all of you share your conclusions about results of using the tool. To arrange to have a tool available only for leaders in your organization, call Authenticity Consulting, LLC, at 800-971-2250.

This on-line assessment tool is provided by Authenticity Consulting, LLC (www.authenticityconsulting.com) and has been adapted from a tool developed by the Greater Twin Cities United Way.

* 1. Please identify yourself. (Your information will NOT be shared with anyone.)

* 2. What is the most important priority for your business to address over the next 12 months?

* 3. What is the second most important priority for your business to address over the next 12 months?

* 4. What is the third most important priority for your business to address over the next 12 months?

* 5. What is the fourth most important priority for your business to address over the next 12 months?

* 6. LEGAL -- The following indicators are in regard to legal considerations typically addressed in businesses

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. All relevant legal filings are current and have been made according to the laws and regulations of your country (for example, in the USA, Articles of Incorporation in the state, employee identification number, sales and use tax certificates, etc.). (E)
b. The organization is registered with and has filed its annual report with the appropriate governmental agency. (E)
c. Tax reports are filed on a regular basis, including for sales tax and any local taxes. (E)
d. Federal and state (or provincial) payroll taxes withholding payments are current. (This requirement applies to organizations with employees.) (E)
e. Quarterly and annual payroll report filings are current. (This requirement applies to organizations with employees.) (E)
f. If the organization has qualified employee health, welfare and/or retirement benefit plans, they meet with all the federal and state/provincial laws. (E)
g. The organization acknowledges and discloses to their Board and auditor any lawsuits or pending legislation which may have a significant impact on the organization's finances and/or operating effectiveness. (E)
h. For corporations, when the Board of Directors makes decisions, a quorum is present and minutes are maintained. (E)
i. Federal, state/provincial and/or city filings and payments are current. (E)
j. Organizations with employees represented by a union must have copies of the union contracts on file. (E)
k. Corporations that distribute stock distributions do so according to rules and regulations of their country (for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the USA).
l. Corporations ensure that compensation and financial management practices conform to rules and regulations of their country (for example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002).

* 7. GOVERANCE (BOARD) -- The following indicators apply to corporations and are in regard to ensuring a high-quality Board of Directors.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. The organization has at least the minimum number of members on the Board of Directors as required by their bylaws, federal statute and/or state/provincial statute. (E)
b. The roles of the Board and the Chief Executive Officer are well defined and mutually understood, and each fully appreciates and utilizes the other. (E)
c. The Chief Executive Officer is recruited, selected, and employed by the Board of Directors. The Board provides clearly written expectations and qualifications for the position, as well as reasonable compensation. (R)
d. The Board evaluates the Chief Executive Officer’s performance on a regular basis in accordance with Board-approved personnel policies.
e. The Board of Directors acts as governing trustees of the organization, on behalf of the stockholders and stakeholders at large, by actively participating in strategic planning for the overall organization. (R)
f. The Board's nominating process ensures that the Board retains expertise to effectively guide the strategic direction for the business and represent its stakeholders. (R)
g. The Board members receive regular training about the general responsibilities of any governing Board (note that training is not the same as orientation – see next item). (E)
h. Training includes rules and regulations applying to Boards of publicly traded companies. (E)
i. New Board members are oriented to the unique aspects of the organization: the organization's mission, bylaws, and policies and products. This information is provided to each Board member in the form of a Board manual. (A)
j. Board organization is documented with a description of the Board and Board committees (if applicable) responsibilities. (A)
k. Each Board Committee has a specific work plan that specifies the purpose and goals of the Committee. (R)
l. Bylaws conform to federal and/or state/provincial statutes and have been reviewed by legal counsel. (R)
m. The bylaws should describe: a) how and when notices for Board meetings are made; b) how members are elected/appointed by the Board; c) what the terms of office are for officers/members; d) how Board members are rotated; e) how ineffective Board members are removed from the Board; and f) a stated number of Board members to make up a quorum which is required for all policy decisions. (R)
n. The Board of Directors reviews the bylaws annually. (R)
o. The Board has an annual calendar of meetings. The Board also has an attendance policy which requires that a quorum of the organization's Board meets at least quarterly. (R)
p. Each Board meeting has a written agenda and the materials relating to significant decisions are given to the Board members in advance of the meeting. (A)
q. Most of the Board members attend meetings and participate actively in those meetings, as well. Board committees attend to their work plans. (E)
r. Board meetings are focused on strategic matters and then lead to strategic and policy decisions that are followed by the organization.
s. The Board has a process for handling urgent matters between meetings. (A)
t. The organization maintains a conflict-of-interest policy and all Board members and executive staff review and/or sign to acknowledge and comply with the policy. (R)

* 8. HUMAN RESOURCES -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring high-quality supervision and employees.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. The organization has a written personnel handbook/policy that is regularly reviewed by an expert on employment laws and updated to describe procedures for a) staffing, b) performance management, c) compensation, d) compliance with government employment laws and regulations, and e) other work rules as needed. (E)
b. The organization follows nondiscriminatory hiring practices. (R)
c. The organization provides a copy of or access to the written personnel policy to all members of the Board, the Chief Executive Officer and all employees. All employees acknowledge in writing that they have read and have access to the personnel handbook/policies. (R)
d. The organization has job descriptions including qualifications, duties, reporting relationships and key indicators. All employees have the opportunity to provide input to the content of their job descriptions. (R)
e. The organization's Board of Directors conducts an annual review/evaluation of its Chief Executive Officer in relationship to a previously determined set of expectations. (R)
f. The Chief Executive Officer's salary is set by the Board of Directors in a reasonable process and is in compliance with the organization's compensation plan. (R)
g. The organization requires employee performance appraisals to be conducted and documented at least annually. Employees have the opportunity to provide input to their appraisals. (E)
h. The organization has a compensation plan and a periodic review of salary ranges and benefits is conducted. (A)
i. The organization has a timely process for filling vacant positions to prevent an interruption of products services or disruption to organization operations. (A)
j. The organization has a process for reviewing and responding to ideas, suggestions, comments and perceptions from all employees. (A)
k. The organization provides opportunities for employees' professional development and training with their job skill area and also in such areas as cultural sensitivity and personal development. (A)
l. Morale is high throughout the organization as evidenced by srong mutual respect among employees and sustained motivation to work toward the organization's mission. (R)

* 9. STRATEGIC PLANNING -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring progress toward a clear focus and direction for the entire organization.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. The organization conducts strategic planning to establish clear goals for the business and employees. (R)
b. The organization has a clear, meaningful written mission statement which reflects its purpose, values and customers served. (E)
c. The mission statement is reviewed and modified regularly as necessary to reflect changes in the environment. (R)
d. The Board formally approves the written strategic plan and monitors status of its implementation. (E)
e. All key stakeholders participate in the planning process. (A)
f. The plan was developed by evaluating the quality of internal operations and then identifying strengths and weaknesses of the organization. (E)
g. The plan was also developed by researching external trends (political, economic, societal, technological, markets, etc.) and then identifying opportunities and threats facing the organization. (R)
h. The planning process identifies the most critical priorities or issues facing the organization. (R)
i. The plan sets specific and measurable goals that address these critical issues or priorities. (R)
j. The plan integrates all the organization's activities around a focused mission. (E)
k. The plan prioritizes the goals and sets timelines for their accomplishment. (R)
l. The plan establishes an evaluation process and performance indicators to measure the progress toward the achievement of goals in the strategic plan. (A)
m. Through specific action plans, resources (human, financial, etc.) are allocated to insure the accomplishment of the goals in a timely fashion. (R)

* 10. MARKET RESEARCH (REGARDING EACH PRODUCT) -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring that the business has strong understanding of its markets and the needs and wants of each target market.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. Market research has verified there are specific target market(s) that have specific need(s) for the product. (E)
b. Market research has verified what each target market is willing to pay for the product. (R)
c. Market research has verified the optimum pricing structure for each target market for the product. (E)
d. Market research has verified the optimum packaging, or method of providing the product, for optimum access and convenience for each target market. (R)
e. Market research has identified all or most of the competitors for the product for each target market. (E)

* 11. ADVERTISING (REGARDING EACH PRODUCT) -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring that the target markets retain strong awareness and desire for each product.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. The organization has established a unique value proposition for each product, or statement of why each target should buy the product from that business, rather than from its competitors. (E)
b. The organization has developed powerful descriptions of the product that conveys the unique benefits of the product to each target. (E)
c. Descriptions of the product are customized and delivered (advertised) in communication channels (TV, radio, etc.) most preferred and accessible by each target market. (E)
d. Advertisements are evaluated to ensure they increase or sustain sufficient customer purchases. (R)
e. Customers are asked where they heard about the product and what led them to buy from the organization. (R)
f. Specific responsibilities are established to ensure that advertisements are delivered and evaluated on a timely basis. (R)

* 12. PUBLIC RELATIONS (REGARDING THE ENTIRE COMPANY) -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring that each stakeholder group has a strong positive image of the company.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. The organization has identified each of the major types of stakeholders that should have a positive image of the company, including customers, investors, community leaders, etc. (R)
b. The organization has articulated the image that it wants each different stakeholder group to believe about the organization, for example, investors to trust the company, community leaders to see the company as a good neighbor, etc.. (R)
c. Various means and tools are identified to cultivate the preferred image among the various stakeholder groups, for example, advertisements, public presentations, contributions to neighborhood efforts, etc. (E)
d. Specific responsibilities are established to ensure the means and tools are utilized by certain dates. (R)

* 13. CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SALES -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring strong sales, customer service and quality management.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. Target markets (identified from market research) are regularly reviewed to generate leads for making sales. (E)
b. Leads are contacted on a regular basis to generate awareness, interest and closings/contracts for each product. (E)
c. All employees who work with customers are trained on best practices in customer service. (R)
d. Customer satisfaction, product defects and product-returns are measured regularly and results are used to update product design and delivery and also update trainings on customer service. (R)
e. Performance indicators (financial, etc.) exist for each product and the progress toward each indicator is evaluated on a regular basis. (R)
f. Adjustments are made to production, delivery and communication regarding the product as based on results of the evaluation. (R)
g. All product activities are highly integrated to accomplish optimum effectiveness in production, delivery and communication about products. (R)

* 14. FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT -- The following indicators are in regard to ensuring high-quality financial transactions, analysis and management.

  Met Needs Work Not Applicable Don't Know
a. The organization follows accounting practices which conform to generally accepted standards. (E)
b. The organization has systems in place to provide the appropriate information needed by Board and employees to make sound financial decisions and to fulfill government requirements (for example, the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service in the USA). (E)
c. The organization prepares timely financial statements including the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement, which are clearly stated and useful for the Board and employees. (Note that these statements might be referred to by different names in various countries.) (R)
d. The organization prepares financial statements on a budget-versus-actual (comparative basis) to achieve a better understanding of its finances. (R)
e. The organization develops an annual comprehensive operating budget which includes costs for all operations and also all sources of funding. This annual budget is reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors. (E)
f. The organization monitors unit costs of products through the documentation of revenue and expenses for each product, and for central administrative operations. (R)
g. The organization prepares cash flow projections to identify if sufficient cash in one hand pay short-term expenses. (E)
h. The organization periodically forecasts year-end revenues and expenses to assist in making sound management decisions during the year. (R)
i. The organization reconciles all cash accounts monthly. (E)
j. The organization has a review process to monitor that it is receiving appropriate and accurate financial information, whether from a contracted service or internal processing. (E)
k. Procedures are established for the periodic billing, follow-up and collection of all accounts on a timely basis, with documentation to substantiate all billings. (E)
l. Government contracts and purchase-of-service agreements are in writing and are reviewed by a member of the organization to monitor compliance with all stated conditions. (E)
m. Payroll is prepared following appropriate federal and state/provincial regulations and organizational policy. (E)
n. Persons employed on a contract basis meet all federal and state/provincial requirements for this form of employment. (E)
o. Periodic inventories monitor against theft, reconcile general ledger inventory information and maintain an adequate inventory level. (E)
p. The organization has a written fiscal policy and procedures manual and follows it. (R)
q. The organization has documented a set of internal controls, including handling of cash and deposits and approval over spending and disbursements. (E)
r. The organization has a policy identifying authorized check signers and the number of signatures required on checks in excess of specified dollar amounts. (E)
s. All expenses of the organization are approved by a designated person before payment is made. (E)
t. The organization has a written policy related to investments. (R)
u. Capital needs are reviewed annually and priorities established accordingly. (R)
v. The organization has established a plan identifying actions to take in the event of a reduction or loss in funding. (R)
w. The organization has established, or is actively trying to develop, a reserve of funds to cover at least three months of operating expenses. (R)
x. The organization has suitable insurance coverage which is periodically reviewed to ensure the appropriate levels and types of coverage are in place. (E)
y. Employees who handle cash and investments are bonded to help assure the safeguarding of assets. (E)
z. The organization has an annual, independent audit of their financial statements, prepared by a certified public accountant. (R)
Thanks for taking the time to complete this questionnaire! Please review your answers and make any changes you desire.

If you're satisfied with your answers, we encourage you to print your completed questionnaire (using the "Print" command in the "File" menu of your internet browser).

Look at those items that are marked as "Needs Work". You might use topics in the Free Management Library at http://www.managementhelp.org to address those items.

Clock on DONE when you are finished with the assessment.
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