BSBOPS301 Maintain Business Resources

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Chapter 7

Maintain business resources


Learning outcomes

In this chapter, you will learn how to:

  • Advise on resource requirements
  • Acquire resources
  • Monitor resource usage and maintenance

In addition to looking after its customers and clients, an organisation needs to look after its resources in order to continue to run smoothly. Managing an organisation’s resource needs means:

  • monitoring resource usage
  • managing budgets
  • reviewing the need for resources
  • controlling waste
  • using technology effectively and safely
  • obtaining the best value for money
  • keeping stock levels under control.

Everyone in the organisation needs resources, and work can grind to a halt if insufficient stocks are on hand. This can decrease the organisation’s efficiency, productivity and profit.

Advising on resource requirements

The resources that an organisation uses in its day-to-day operations are an expense that cannot be recovered directly through sales to customers. However, they are necessary so that the organisation can function efficiently.

As an administrator or receptionist, it may be part of your role to monitor the resource needs of your organisation. This will require you to ensure that the necessary resources are always on hand, while considering the cost involved in providing these items. This means you also need to ensure that the resources you purchase on behalf of your organisation are used as efficiently as possible and that there is minimal waste.

Depending on the size of the organisation you work for, and its processes, managing resources might be as simple as putting in a stationery request every so often when the stationery cupboard looks bare. In other instances, however, there may be budgetary considerations that make it necessary to monitor how resources are being used, in order to reduce costs, or to estimate the organisation’s annual resource expenditure. It is this area of resource management that we will address in this chapter.

What are business resources?

Business resources are all those things that you need in order to conduct business—that is, to perform work tasks. They can take the following forms:

  • Human resources. No business can operate without people to perform the various tasks. People are an organisation’s most valuable resource.
  • Capital resources. These are normally large and/or very expensive items such as furniture, business vehicles, large items of machinery, and equipment such as photocopiers, telephone systems, and so on. Capital resources are items that don’t need regular replacement and are expected to last for many years.
  • Business equipment. These resources are less permanent than capital items and are often replaced annually, or at least within a few years. They include computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, computer software, digital cameras, and so on.
  • Consumables. These are the items we use (and use up) on a daily basis. They can be of three types:
  • Raw materials, stocks and supplies—items used either to manufacture or to stock products sold by your organisation.
  • Equipment consumables, such as ink and toner cartridges for printers and photocopiers, staples for photocopiers that are able to staple documents, batteries for small appliances such as digital cameras, floppy disks and memory cards.
  • Stationery items, such as copier or printer paper, letterhead paper, envelopes, pens and pencils, staples/staplers, paperclips, and so on.

 Calculating current and future resource requirements

Determining the resource needs of an organisation requires careful planning and an understanding of how, where and when those resources are used—and by whom. This means that a certain amount of research needs to be done in order to forecast, with any accuracy, what your needs might be for the foreseeable future. For the planning of business expense purposes, forecasting means predicting how many of each item you will need to buy for the coming year. This process enables the organisation’s management to set its budgets by calculating its expenses in each area of the business and how much income it therefore needs to generate to cover those expenses.

A well-organised administration system will monitor and keep statistics on the use of resources over time. These statistics are a vital part of the forecast process, as they allow you to determine trends and patterns over time and can therefore give you a fairly accurate idea of what future needs might be. For example, Table 7.1 shows a number of columns listing various resource items. For each year shown, the table gives the quantity used, the cost per unit and the total cost. It also shows the total number of each item ordered and the amount spent over the period of the analysis, which in this case is three years but could be much longer.

Let’s take the photocopy paper figures from Table 7.1 as an example. The amount ordered and spent each year has increased. In the coming year, the organisation will be introducing a new procedure whereby promotional materials will be produced in-house by the marketing department rather than being sent out externally to be printed. This means that the quantity of copier paper used will increase considerably, which will need to be taken into consideration when setting the requirements and budgets for the year to come. The increase in paper use will also have a flow-on effect, as using more paper means using more toner, so this, too, will have to be factored into future budgets. On the other hand, the organisation is moving to an electronic document management system, which means that the majority of its files will be stored in computers rather than filing cabinets. This will reduce the need for manila folders and hanging indent files, so the quantity of these required to be purchased for the next year will decrease.

Table 7.1 Example of resource analysis sheet showing usage and costs

There are a number of things to consider when forecasting future resource needs. If the organisation has used more of certain items in some years, and less in others, you will need to look at the reasons for the shift in numbers. For example:

  • Has the company grown?
  • Are there more staff?
  • Were there specific projects or campaigns that accounted for the fluctuation in numbers?
  • Did the organisation change suppliers?
  • Did the supplier’s cost structures change?
  • Did the organisation’s peaks and troughs change? If so, why?
  • Did the organisation change or introduce new procedures?

The answers to these questions, among others, will give you a full understanding of the organisation’s past resource requirements and help you to determine its future needs.

Having looked at past figures, you now need to estimate what you will need in the coming year. You do this by:

  • taking past data into consideration
  • looking at upcoming promotional campaigns and projects
  • factoring in any changes the organisation is planning to make in the coming year that will affect its work output
  • identifying any new industry trends that might affect peak and trough periods
  • checking with suppliers about next year’s prices.

When all of this is done, you should have sufficient information to estimate the coming year’s requirements and can set up a budget accordingly.


(a) Make a list of the stationery items you use.

(b) For the next month, keep track of how many of each item you use, why you need to use it and how much it cost.

(c) Calculate the overall cost of what you used up during that month.

 Organisational and legal requirements

Business resources can be more than just stationery items. Therefore, in addition to looking at all of the above issues, you also have to consider internal organisational requirements that may extend to how business equipment is used, how organisational goals will be met through efficient use of resources, and communication channels and protocols. These protocols are organisational guidelines that stipulate the manner in which communication between staff members at different levels should occur.

Organisational requirements could include:

  • Access and equity principles and practice. It is against the law in Australia to discriminate against anyone due to their gender, religion, race and age (among other things). This means that all staff must have equal access to the resources provided. Allowances may therefore need to be made, when determining resource needs, for staff with language, literacy or numeracy difficulties, or who may have physical or mental impairments.
  • Business and performance plans. Any decisions made about resource requirements must be in line with the organisation’s overall business strategies for its future. This might mean ensuring that all expenses are kept to a minimum so as to reduce costs, and that all necessary resources are always available when needed, so that goals and objectives can be met and systems and processes can flow smoothly.
  • Defined resource parameters. The organisation you work for may have set policies and procedures in place for dealing with resources. For example, there may be:
    • a given quality standard that will impact on the cost of the resource
    • a minimum threshold for each item which, when reached, will trigger an order for replacement items
    • minimum or maximum numbers allowed to be kept onsite at any one time
    • specified suppliers from whom you order resources
    • a sustainability requirement, where resources are to be ordered from environmentally friendly suppliers and used resources are to be recycled or reused.
  • Legal and organisational policies, guidelines and requirements. The use and care of resources may have to comply with legislative or organisational policies or procedures. For example:
    • In some industries, it may be necessary to use chemicals or other substances that are toxic or otherwise hazardous to a person’s health. In such cases, these resources must be handled and stored in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and in line with legislative and organisational guidelines. Failure to do so could result in serious harm or injury to persons and could lead to legal prosecution.
    • The food industry is subject to strict hygiene regulations. As such, there will be specific legislation with regards to food storage. Again, failure to abide by these regulations could result in serious penalties and potential illness or harm to customers.
  • Workplace health and safety (WHS) policies, procedures and programs. At all times, the health, safety and security of staff and customers must be considered. When determining resource requirements, you should therefore keep WHS issues in mind. This might include ensuring that:
    • harmful or hazardous items are transported, handled and stored correctly
    • resources are stored in such a way as not to cause harm due to slips, spills and falls
    • correct manual handling procedures are followed when moving heavy items into or out of storage areas.
  • Security and confidentiality issues. Privacy and confidentiality is an extremely important issue. Information about what the organisation is doing, what its policies are, who its customers are, and so on, is considered to be confidential information and should not be discussed with people outside the organisation. All documents written and received by you and/or your organisation are also confidential and should not be shared with persons outside the organisation unless specifically designed for public information. A breach of an organisation’s confidentiality policies could be grounds for instant dismissal from your position.
  • Management and accountability channels. When determining your organisation’s resource needs, you must also always bear accountability in mind. While you may be responsible for ordering and managing certain resources within the organisation, the authority to access budgets and make final decisions on the ordering process and resource requirements may, ultimately, rest with those in higher positions. You will need to liaise with these people throughout the forecasting and decision-making process to ensure that the best possible options and quantities are chosen for the future.
  • Quality and continuous improvement processes and standards. Looking for ways in which to improve business processes should be standard operating procedure for all organisations. With technological changes happening almost daily and rising sustainability issues, it is in every organisation’s interest to be continually reviewing its resource usage and business maintenance systems and setting quality assurance standards for any resources it uses. While the cost of acquiring resources is certainly an important factor, so too is ensuring the best possible quality. While high-quality items may cost more than cheap items in the short term, they are more likely to last longer and so may prove more economical in the long term.

Providing advice on resource, equipment needs and supplier selection

Having researched and determined the organisation’s resource requirements, you will need to provide this information to the relevant staff. Supervisors or managers will make decisions based on your information that will have an impact on the organisation as a whole. Therefore, your report should:

  • be clear and concise, outlining exactly what resources are required and why
  • show how your resource recommendations address organisational requirements and/or take into consideration new trends or organisational plans, goals or objectives
  • provide comparisons to show which materials and suppliers are the most economical and effective choices.

Be sure that you are certain of your facts and recommendations, as you may be asked to justify them.

The impact of resource shortages

Ensuring that there is always an adequate supply of consumables or other resources on hand is extremely important. Often, in an organisation, there will be projects to complete in order for a business commitment to be met. For example, a large print or photocopy job may be called for where the copies are needed for a customer’s upcoming event or meeting. If the copies aren’t ready on time, this can lead not only to embarrassment on your organisation’s part but also to a loss of reputation and the potential loss of business. This is particularly unfortunate if the deadline was missed due to the lack of necessary resources such as copy paper or toner cartridge, as such a situation is entirely avoidable with proper planning.

It is also very important to ensure that all equipment is maintained regularly, as breakdowns can seriously impact an organisation’s workflow and productivity. Some industries and/or organisations rely completely on machines to manufacture or process their products, so breakdowns can mean serious financial losses and, potentially, a loss of reputation. Most organisations today rely on computers to capture information, process payments and much more; therefore, a breakdown in computer systems can stop an organisation in its tracks.

The failure of a computer or other piece of equipment in your workplace can cause problems that could take a substantial amount of time to fix, in the meantime halting work and decreasing productivity while staff wait for the problem to be resolved.

… continued in the textbook….

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