What makes a good Engineering Manager?

I was asked this question recently and and since answering, I’ve come away and thought about it in more detail. Here is where I ended up…

A good Engineering Manager creates an environment where their team can do amazing things whilst delivering great software.

OK, so how do you do that?

Well, you need to provide what Engineers need to be truly fulfilled in their roles. To me, this consists of five things:

1) Purpose

We need to know the reason we are required…and indeed that we are actually required. This is not just about our specific role but the bigger picture too, everyone ought to understand and be bought into what we, as a company, are trying to achieve.

2) Control  / ownership

People care far more about things they own and can control then things that they can’t. If you can’t control something, you aren’t really responsible for it succeeding (or failing!), so why bother?

This is why autonomy is so important. Show Engineers what problems need solving and let them take ownership and work out how to solve them.

3) Appreciation

I once read that all anyone wants is to be appreciated and this is so true. If you feel appreciated, you’ll be eager to do more for someone. If you don’t, well, why bother?

4) To be themselves

So you may have purpose, control over what you do and feel appreciated but if you can’t be yourself, is it worth it? No one wants to spend all day putting on a front, what a waste of energy! Energy that could be used to do your job even better!

5) To work with great people

However diverse a team is, a great team will all get on (most of the time!) and celebrate each others’ differences.

They will also support each other. Engineers need to know that they can ask for help and not be judged. We also need to know that if we make a mistake, the finger of blame won’t be pointed; making someone feel bad for their mistakes helps no one.

In summary, a good Engineering Manager builds a team who know what they need to do and why they need to do it but they let the team decide how they will do it. They will encourage a team that supports each other and that appreciates people for who they are.

What’s the point of a business credit score anyway?

In your own personal life you probably know why your credit score makes a difference. You need to get a mortgage to buy that house you need because you’re in that place in your life when settling down seems the thing you’re supposed to do.  You want to get a credit card so that you can take advantage of some last minute holiday deal to a sunshine resort but don’t have the funds to pay for it now.


You know that when you apply for these things your credit score is going to be looked at by the banks or the credit card companies to see whether you’re worth them risking their money on you.  Are you going to pay them back?  Are you going to pay them back regularly, and on time?


Without a good credit score, you probably know that your chances of getting the card, or the loan, or the mortgage, are reduced.  Or you won’t get quite as much as you hoped for.  You might get a £3,000 credit limit as opposed to a £5,000.  Or a 6 months interest-free period as opposed to 12 months.  You might be advised to provide 25% of the value of the property as opposed to 15%.


All because your credit score doesn’t show the financial institutions that you’re a good CreditScore100risk for them.


Well, it’s exactly the same for businesses when they need to get their hands on a new source of funding.


The financiers will take a look at the credit score of the business to see whether their money is going to be safe, but whilst we’re aware of this in our private lives, small businesses often pay no attention to it in their business life.


A Department for Business Innovation & Skills report into how small businesses try to raise external financing found that 69% of UK businesses had NEVER checked their credit score, despite the fact that 56% of SMEs have required external financing during the previous three years in order to operate their business.


CreditScoreAnd what happens when you need to get external financing?  Your credit score gets checked.  That’s a whole host of businesses going into financial negotiations completely blind as to their chances of success.


You need a loan to extend your premises or buy that new van.  You contact a source of external finance and the first thing they’ll do is check how big a risk you are to them, and they’ll find out your credit score before you do!


How is it possible to plan your business if you have no idea what finance your likely to get given your credit score and visible financial record?  The reality is that most businesses don’t plan this kind of thing.


The average time between a business enquiring about external finance and actually needing to use the finance is just 8 days.  That’s not a lot of time to adjust your plans if you’re unsuccessful in getting all the finance you need, or the finance you do get is more costly than you expect, both of which might happen if your business’s credit score isn’t in good shape.


That’s why you should be monitoring your credit score from the day you start trading, because at some point in the future you’re likely to need it, and by that time it needs to be as good as it can be and there’s no time to take any steps to improve it if it isn’t.


Start putting some positive effort into your business credit score today so that when the time comes you’re ready.  Check your score regularly, ensure the details are correct, pay your bills on time, file your accounts on time, don’t go overdrawn, and don’t default on any debts.  You’ll then have a much greater chance of being able to finance the business on your terms.


What’s your business’s credit score?

Wouldn’t it be great to know whether large businesses paid on time

As part of our Ask the Expert series, Karen Savage, Partner at law firm Shoosmiths, takes a look at the draft regulations for large companies to report their payment practices.

The regulations

With effect from 6 April 2017, draft regulations (Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations, 2017) would have large companies and LLPs publishing information about their payment practices and performance twice a year via a government website so that you can see who pays their bills on time. You will be a large company for these regulations if you tick two of the following three criteria: annual turnover of over £36 million; balance sheet total of over £18 million or over 250 employees.

Everyone will benefit from these regulations because you can see who does what, but if you tick two of the following three criteria: annual turnover of over £36 million; balance sheet total of over £18 million or over 250 employees, then you’ll need to be one of the ones who submits their data.

The reporting will include information about your payment terms, including your standard contractual length of time for payment of invoices, maximum contractual payment period and any changes to standard payment terms and whether suppliers have been notified or consulted about any such changes. You will also need to give information about your dispute resolution process related to payments.

Statistics will also feature in the report, and you will need to provide the average time taken to pay an invoice from the date of receipt of the invoice. This will include the percentage of invoices paid within the reporting period which were paid in 30 days or fewer, between 31 and 60 days, and lastly over 60 days. You will also need to confirm the proportion of invoices due within the reporting period which were not paid within the agreed terms.

There are a number of statements within the reporting requirements about whether you offer e-invoicing, supply chain finance and whether you are a member of a payment code. For example, the prompt payment code. You will need to state whether your practices and policies cover deducting sums from payments as a charge for remaining on a supplier’s list, and whether you have done this within the reporting period.

The report will need to be signed off by a director and so the intention is that this will be an issue at board level, and will therefore be a prominent consideration for those affected.

Guidance is expected at the same time as the regulations are placed before Parliament, and readers are welcome to monitor our publications for further updates.


The aim of these regulations is to enable suppliers to identify which of their customers subject to the regulations are good payers. It will also provide information about payment terms and conditions which will allow suppliers to assess how their customers trade with their suppliers, and presumably whether they wish to offer their goods or services to that company.

Broadly, this is intended to be a tool for small business to tackle late payment, but there can be many reasons for late payment. The companies affected by these regulations will need to consider how they identify the risks from these regulations and manage those within their business, and in communications with suppliers. It may be, for example, that potential partners rule themselves out from a trading relationship with you before you even get the chance to dialogue with them.

Disputed invoices will be included within the statistics which record the proportion of invoices which were not paid within the agreed terms, and within the statistics on the average time taken to pay. This aspect might well need close examination within your business, and what impact if any, disputed invoices could have on your supplier base.

For those suppliers recovering unpaid invoices, this new regime will provide information which might assist with that debt recovery process. Depending on where the company is on the cycle of reporting, current information about their payment profile might assist you with your decision making in relation to debt recovery options.

About Karen Savage

Karen is a Partner and leads the recoveries team at Shoosmiths, a makor UK law firm. Karen has over twokarensavage decades experience in commercial recoveries and insolvency litigation, having acted for a broad range of clients within the financial sector, utilities, debt purchase , trade creditor and credit insurance sector.

Karen is recognised and ranked by Legal 500 and Chambers and known for her commerical and pragmatic advice, together with her exceptional client care skills. Karen is also a previous winner of Credit Todays Litigation Specialist of the Year

Disclaimer – This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

On this day … 26th October … Ormsby Street featured in Small Business Saturday

We’re proud to have been chosen by Small Business Saturday as one of their Small Biz 100, and 26th October is our featured day.


We can add this to the list of historic things that have happened on this date, including:

1994 – Egypt and Jordan sign a peace deal to end 46 years of war

1992 – General Motors Corp. Chairman Robert Stempel resigned after the company recorded its highest losses in history

1959 – We see the far side of the moon for the first time

1949 – U.S. President Harry Truman raised the minimum wage from 40 to 75 cents an hour.

1947 – Future US President (?) Hilary Clinton was born

1942 – British actor Bob Hoskins was born

1916 – Former French President Francois Mitterand was born

1881 – The “Gunfight at the OK Corral” took place in Tombstone, AZ. The fight was between Wyatt Earp, his two brothers and Doc Holiday and the Ike Clanton Gang

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2016 Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, December 3rd

Campaigning for your local business – why bother?

Checking LinkedIn today I saw a post about a coffee shop in Bristol which was suffering because of works that the council were undertaking on a nearby bridge which was directing customers away from the cafe.

Crepe & the Coffee Cabin

I used to work with a customer who had an office just across the water from their location, and it came to my attention from a member of the customer team I worked with.

It’s a great example of the challenges that small businesses face on a daily basis.  You think you’ve got your business plan all sorted and then something unexpected happens and you’re up against the wall.  In this case it’s important local infrastructure works, but many times it’s one invoice that’s not been paid because of a problem down the supply chain.

But in this instance the joys of social media have taken over and the cafe is gaining important attention which is driving some people for a latte or a crepe.  One person’s desire to help has proven to make a difference.

There are thousands of businesses across the country experiencing similar problems, so if there’s one you know that needs a helping hand, then help them out.  It doesn’t need to take a lot of effort but could make a lot of difference.

You’ll miss them when they’re gone!



Invoice early in holiday season or you’ll get burned


Most small business owners get told that it doesn’t matter if they have a good idea or great service but what really matters is that they have an effective cash flow or else they won’t survive. And it’s true, cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and as such we should do everything we can to ensure the flow keeps flowing.  However we’re soon to be entering the season when folks disappear off to the seaside which means they aren’t signing off invoices. It’s holiday season!

HolidaysMany businesses will have reduced staffing levels during the holiday period, which means your customers won’t be paying any of their bills. In the meantime, you’ll need to be paying your employees holiday pay and not getting in any more new business as your team also head off to get a tan.

There are however a few simple things you can do in order…

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