Agency 3: Business Operations

17 min read

The third agency in the community, and the third in the Village Bureau, is the Business Operations Agency. This agency provides limited partners with the equipment they need to run their businesses. It also provides them with inventory and accounts receivable factoring. These services help them manage their cash flow and business operations seamlessly.

business operations

The other agencies in the Village Bureau are Agency 1 (Human Relations) and Agency 2 (Stewardship). These agencies represent the initial stages of a limited partner’s contact with the economy. they are also instrumental in facilitating continuing social and business support during their stay.

Before limited partners interact with the Business Processes Agency, they have already invested in the community and set up their savings and checking accounts. They have also rented personal living space from the Human Relations Agency.

They have drawn up their business plans and undertaken business training to prepare themselves with getting the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to run a business in the community. The steward achieves these aims through an automated system that is set up and managed by the Stewardship Agency.

The system also directs them to other agencies where they may need help with their business. This is besides help in renting commercial space in the hubs from the agency, or commercial space in one of the 24 buildings from the Health and Nutrition Agency, which owns and manages these buildings. Their commercial space has been modified for use, by adding fixtures modifications. Additionally, any limited partnership agreements have also been drawn up.

The services that the agency provides generate revenue, that the agency uses to pay for its loan obligations, upgrade equipment and other assets, and pay a return on capital invested in it by the Capital Bank Agency.

Roles of the Business Operations Agency

With the agency’s executive presidency providing the necessary strategic direction, which is implemented by the village (operational) presidencies, the agency performs a number of duties as detailed below, with the help of its automated system and contractors. The duties include:

  • Lease of equipment
  • Inventory and account receivables’ factoring
  • Training

Lease of equipment

The Business Operations Agency consults a limited partner’s business plan to establish the equipment they need. At other junctures during a business’s operations, it can request additional equipment as needs dictate. The Business Operations Agency provides the equipment needed at a fee to the business.

The agency uses loans from the Commercial Bank Agency (agency 9) to procure this equipment. Down payments are obtained from funds invested as capital by the Capital Bank Agency (agency 8). Requests for loans are lodged in the automated system by the village that a limited partner belongs to. The village is responsible for repaying these loans, but the equipment belongs to the Business Operations Agency.

After providing the needed equipment, the agency monitors use to establish its fitness for purpose, and whether the business is utilizing it optimally. Where corrective measures are needed, the agency intervenes, to boost productivity. Equipment is armed with several tools that transmit information to the automated system. The system can analyze this information to determine if an intervention is needed, and the manner of this intervention. For instance, it can inform the business on how to better use equipment, or it can refer them to a consultant. This system also helps in tracking the need for maintenance and connecting maintenance consultants with the business using the equipment.

When equipment has outlived its usefulness, the agency arranges for its disposal. The agency uses the information gathered from a piece of equipment, and reviews from the users to determine whether its life has come to an end. The agency thereafter alerts businesses that deal in disposal to organize for disposal, including ferrying the equipment from where it is used to the disposer’s premises. The disposal can either be handled by manufacturers, who can refurbish the equipment, or by scrap metal dealers or be repurposed where possible. Disposal costs are handled by the business that runs a disposal business.

Factoring

The community aims to make it as easy as possible to do business, with limited partners not needing to worry about financing inventory, or waiting for invoices to come due. It achieves this through the factoring process.

When a business needs inventory, it requests its village presidency for business operations through the agency’s automated system. The request is elaborate, with all details about the inventory being sought. On receiving the request, the automated system vets it, establishing the alignment with the business’s normal operations, the expected turnaround time, cost, and availability. The business also understands that failure to turn over the inventory within a specified time will attract losses since they will have to sell off the goods at a discounted price and settle any loss with their funds.

For instance, if a business asks for rice worth $1,000, fails to sell it within 6 months, and is forced to sell it at $900 to an animal feed producer, they will settle the difference of $100 from their pocket. Encouraging fast turnover optimizes the utilization of resources and leads to greater productivity.

Through inventory factoring, both the seller and the buyer are cushioned from accounts payables and receivables burden and are therefore better placed to enhance their businesses cash flow, and the community’s income through factoring fees

When it approves the request, the village takes a loan from the Commercial Bank Agency and pays the supplier. The business that applied for factoring is responsible for logistics and delivery of the inventory. The agency charges a factoring fee that it uses to cover the interest on loans, as well as make a profit to enable it to give a return on investment to the Capital Bank.

Accounts receivables are also factored in by the agency. Once a business sells goods to another, the invoice it receives is factored in, meaning that it immediately receives funds, before the debtor has honored the invoice. Unlike ordinary factoring services, however, the business that issues an invoice is responsible for following up and ensuring the invoice is paid to the agency.

This obligation encourages the business to perform keen due diligence before issuing an accounts receivable. They use information collected by the agency to make the right call, and determine the additional cost, if any, that they will attach to the invoice, on account of risk. If an invoice is not honored, the business that took the factoring services will have to settle with the agency. Account receivable factoring, just like inventory factoring, is funded by loans from the Commercial Bank Agency.

Training

The Business Operations Agency aims to have the equipment and inventory that it provides to businesses generate maximum value. This can only work when the business owners are familiarized with their use, market trends, and best use.

The agency undertakes numerous training exercises to ensure that participants who are to use these resources can handle them well. The training is automated. In some instances, the agency can hire contractors for more intense training. In other instances, businesses may hire contractors to enhance their capacity.

How the agency works

Background on presidencies

Every presidency in the community presidency is a four-member entity whose members represent one of the four major demographics: married men (A), married women (B), single women (C), and single men (D). However, a president serves the whole community in their role, rather than only their own demographic. Presidents’ diversity and commitment to serve all is provided for in the community bylaws and ensures that all access services without any discrimination.

These four major demographics are evenly split in ordinary society, with each group accounting for between 23 and 27% of the population, and with regular fluctuations as people’s status changes. The community appreciates that discrimination across all social categories happens based on marital status, other social categorizations notwithstanding; married men are likelier to dominate other demographics, especially single men and single women. Married women are also likelier to have better outcomes in careers and leadership than single women.

The community’s infrastructure promotes equal access to economic and social resources and opportunities. The composition of the community as a whole and those who serve it in the community public service is closely monitored to prevent numerical domination, which can lead to nepotism or unequal access.

Besides marital status, the recruitment to be a participant, and to serve in the public service carefully considers other social categorizations, to ensure racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual groups are well represented in the community as they are in the society in which a community operates. These considerations inform the constitution of the community public service. The diversity in community public service, which is provided by bylaws, is aimed at creating a community that is blind to all other considerations besides service to participants. The service is therefore designed to be free of discrimination.

Executive presidency, bureau board, and demographic presidencies

The Business Operations Agency is served by an executive presidency which is responsible for shaping, monitoring, and adjusting the agency’s overall strategy and policies. The presidency also facilitates the setting up of the agency’s automated system and adjusts it as necessary to better achieve its goals. As part of the Village bureau, the executive presidency forms a bureau board with executive presidencies serving the Human Relations and Stewardship agencies. The board acts as a check and monitoring tool for individual presidents and agencies, especially when decisions have far-reaching implications for the community.

Within the bureau board, three presidents from the same demographic form a demographic presidency. There are four such presidencies in the bureau. The demographic presidency works on matters of common interest to a demographic, that cut across the three agencies. The demographic presidency also plays an important role in the mentorship and training of new presidents.

Demographic presidency ADemographic presidency BDemographic presidency CDemographic presidency D
Executive presidency, Human Relations (1)1A1B1C1D
Executive presidency, Stewardship (2)2A2B2C2D
Executive presidency, Business Operations (3)3A3B3C3D

Limited partners and branch presidencies

Limited partners and group council

A limited partner is the basic unit in the community. A limited person, usually above 18 years old, but sometimes as young as 16, has been admitted into the community and has invested $20,000 as partnership interest, for which they earn a return. This is regarded as one unit of partnership interest. Over time, a limited partner can add more units of partnership interest, as their business prospers. The more partnership interest units a limited partner has, the more the return they receive from the agency.

A dependent is a minor, or a person living with a disability, under the care of a limited partner. In some instances, a dependent may be a fit adult, who for various reasons is supported by community agencies, and assigned by contract to a limited partner.  Limited partners are responsible for any legal agreements that their dependents enter into, either with community agencies or other participants. Together, limited partners and dependents are referred to as participants.

Participants who are dependents, because they are still minors, can start a business when they reach 12 years of age. This allows them to save up and invest USD 20,000 into the community by their 18th birthday, and possibly as early as 16. Limited partners and their dependents reside in apartments (village buildings). Each apartment has 4 floors, with each floor containing 16 apartments.

Each floor has floor has 7 – 12 limited partners, with each limited partner having 1 – 3 dependents. Each floor therefore has around 25 residents. With four floors, each building has approximately 100 residents. An apartment building also forms a branch.

Captains and branch presidencies

Of the approximately 100 residents in a branch, around 40 of them are limited partners. Each group has around 10 limited partners and forms a group council. A group council is diverse, containing different social groups that are reflective of the society within which a community operates. Additionally, a group contains members of the four main demographics: married men (A), married women (B), single women (C), and single men (D).

The council meets at least quarterly and provides limited partners with a platform to interact and discuss common interest matters to their demographic within their branch. One of the members of the group council serves the group as a captain. Four captains who serve the four groups in an apartment building (branch) form a branch presidency. A branch presidency’s membership is drawn from the four main demographics (A, B, C, and D) for the purposes of representation.

Captains are responsible for recruiting limited partners into the community through their council and by extension, branch. A captain does not recruit limited partners only from their demographic. Instead, they work to ensure that their recruits are diverse, considering social categorizations, gender, and social status, in addition to demographic groups.

Captains work in concert with their fellow captains in the branch presidency, and other presidencies in a village and district to ensure that the district is as diverse as possible. They are guided by present data on how diverse their district, village, and branch are, and what needs to be focused on to improve. They are also guided by community bylaws, which expressly require diversity as shown by demographic data about a population from which the community intends to recruit limited partners.

The captain serves as a service extension of the Human Relations Agency, though they also act as an interface between participants and other community agencies. For agencies that do not have operational presidencies, such as the Communication Agency, captains come in handy in helping participants navigate the agency’s automated system and other relevant tools used by the agency to deliver services.

10 branches form a village. Each of the branch presidencies also belongs to a specific branch board. Branch boards provide an additional check and balance for captains and branch presidencies. Branches are numbered based on the village’s hub, in the direction of the breezeway one-way traffic direction.

Branches numbering
Numbering system for branches

A hub is formed at the intersection of breezeways between villages. Hub buildings are used for a range of commercial activities that need to be closer to residential areas, such as daycare centers, grocery stores, and emergency centers, among others.

A branch’s number determines with whom its presidency will form a branch board. Branch presidencies 1, 2, and 3 form one branch board, as do 4, 5, and 6, and 7, 8, and 9.

Four villages make a district. The last branch presidency in each village in the community (branch presidency 10) combines with three others in their district or cluster of 3 districts to form additional branch boards. The last branch presidencies in villages 1, 2, and 3 in each district make a board. The last branch presidencies in village 4 of each of the 3 districts in a cluster also form a board.

This can be illustrated as follows:

Branch presidencies and boards

Besides belonging to a branch presidency and a board, every captain belongs to a demographic presidency of 3. A demographic presidency is made up of 3 captains within a board, and who serve the same demographic. The demographic presidency mainly serves an advisory function, safeguarding issues common to the particular demographic, and helping in mentorship and support for incoming captains.

The automated system is designed to help participants with all the help they need in matters related to various agencies, including the Business Operations Agency. However, should they run into problems, captains assist them in navigating the system, or direct them to relevant contractors who help them at a fee.

Village presidencies

Each village is served by three village presidencies. Each presidency serves an agency in the Village Bureau, such that there is a village presidency for human relations, stewardship, and business operations. Village presidencies are the operational presidencies in their agency. They implement the agency’s policies and strategies, as set by the executive presidency. They also report back to the executive presidency on issues that they deem need to be changed in the agency’s operations.

The three village presidencies that serve a village, each comprised of four presidents, come together to form a village board. The village board helps individual presidents in decision-making that impacts the whole village, mentorship, and orientation of incoming presidents. Three presidents on the board who serve the same demographic also form a demographic presidency. This is better illustrated in the table below, showing an example of village 1.

Married men (A)Married women (B)Single women (C)Single men (D)
Village presidency, human relations1(1)A1(1)B1(1)C1(1)D
Village presidency, stewardship1(2)A1(2)B1(2)C1(2)D
Village presidency, Business operations1(3)A1(3)B1(3)C1(3)D

Where: 1 – village number

  • – agency served

A – demographic group

Automated system

The Business Operations Agency uses an automated system to perform the bulk of its duties. Monitoring equipment use and condition, applying for and following up on factoring, and applying for equipment are all handled by the automated system, as is training. Contractors who engage with the agency also do so through the system. The automated system is designed to minimize human interference in some roles, in the process eliminating inefficiencies associated with human error. The system also leverages the information that the community handles, through big data computing and other means to aid in decision-making. The agency collects fees for the various services it offers through the automated system. This includes access to the system itself.

Contractors

The Business Operations Agency relies on contractors for specific tasks that it cannot handle through operational presidencies or the automated system. Some aspects of training are handled by contractors. When machines need to undergo general maintenance, the agency hires contractors to perform it. In other instances, business owners need advice or routine maintenance done to hired equipment. With the approval of the agency, they can engage contractors to work on them.

Inter-agency cooperation

The 24 community agencies form three columns of 8 agencies each. There is loose collaboration between the agencies in a column. The Business Operations Agency is part of the third column.

The Business Operations Agency’s assets are insured by the Recreation and Arts Agency. To buy these assets, the agency is given loans by the Commercial Bank Agency (agency 9). The Business Operations Agency also uses expertise and systems developed by the Audit Agency (agency 15) to examine the use of equipment to ensure optimal productivity. The Business Operations Agency extensively cooperates with the Raw Materials and Transport Agency (agency 24) to enable limited partners to operationalize mines extract resources, and transport them for value-addition.

Presidencies’ offices, meetings, and quarterly conferences

Offices

The Business Operations Agency’s executive presidency has offices in District Building 3’s first floor, on the western side. Facing them on the eastern side are the offices for trustee presidency and Regulatory Bureau’s operational presidency serving the agency and District 3.

Trustees and the regulatory operational presidencies alternate their offices. Trustees have the offices in building 3 on Mondays and Wednesdays, while the operational presidencies use the offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as shown in this timetable:

Building 3/Business OperationsBuilding 15/Audit
MondayTrustee presidencyRegulatory Bureau Operational presidency
TuesdayRegulatory Bureau Operational presidencyTrustee presidency
WednesdayTrustee presidencyRegulatory Bureau Operational presidency
ThursdayRegulatory Bureau Operational presidencyTrustee presidency

This graphic sghows where the executive presidency sits in District Building 3’s first floor.

Business operations offices

Village presidencies have offices in the district building of the district they serve, on the third and fifth floors. Villages 1 and 2 use offices on the third floor, while Villages 3 and 4 use the fifth floor. The office layout is as follows, in this case, district 3’s third floor.

Village presidencies offices, business operations

Working hours and meetings

All community public servants work from Monday to Thursday, from 8:00 to 8:45 in the morning. The Business Operations Agency’s executive presidency uses this time to interact with other public servants and in some instances, contractors. On Thursday, each presidency (four presidents serving A, B, C, and D) meets for a 45-minute meeting from 9:00 to 9:45 in the morning.

On the last Friday of each quarter, between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, each demographic presidency meets. The three-member presidency discusses common bureau matters that are of interest to the demographic they serve. On Saturday, again between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, the whole board meets, where the presidents present their input from the previous day’s demographic presidency meeting, and prepare for the quarterly conference. The aim is to have a cohesive presentation during the quarterly conference but tailored to specific demographic interests.

Quarterly conferences

Quarterly conferences are held on the last Sunday of each quarter, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, with a lunch break in between. During quarterly conferences, each demographic presidency sits together in the same row.

Quarterly conferences are held in District Buildings 5 and 17. Each building has a lower and higher assembly court. The different demographic groups use the assembly courts as follows:

BuildingAssembly courtDemographic
5Lower courtMarried men (A)
5Higher courtMarried Women (B)
17Lower courtSingle women (C)
17Higher courtSingle men (D)

Branch presidencies do not attend quarterly conferences. Instead, they follow the relevant proceedings online alongside other participants.

Each of the four assembly courts has seats for 480 presidents representing the respective demographic. In the diagram below each of the 4 courts is illustrated. The ceiling of each court has an elliptical arch that enables executive presidents, who are the only ones who make a presentation during the conference, to speak without the need to amplify their voices. The 480 seats are easily rotatable to enable presidents to face whoever is speaking.

Assembly hall layout

Each of the four courts has an identical arrangement and number of seats. The exact arrangement of each court can therefore be illustrated using one court, in this case, building 5’s lower court that is used by married men (A).

Conference seating

Within an assembly court, the 480 presidents are arranged in terms of demographic presidencies of 3. The Village Bureau’s demographic presidency for married men (1A, 2A, and 3A) sits in the highlighted seats. Various villages’ demographic presidencies also sit on the same row as indicated.

Demographic seating

Representations of hierarchical- and matrix-type organizations.
The structure of a hierarchical-type organization is shown on the left, and that of a matrix-type organization is shown on the right.

Some additional notes/definitions from an earlier version of this page:

  • Having participants rent what they need, rather than buy it has a number of economic factors backing it up. The most obvious is the low initial cost of acquiring the asset, which the individual can choose to exactly match their requirements, especially with regard to specialist equipment. Such a stance also increases the variety of assets available for community participants to use (Holt-Ca15 advantages to renting equipment versus owning it. 2019. 16 06 2019).
  • A more immediate reason why the community favors owning the goods is to eliminate the inequality that such assets may bring. By having each participant rent what they need, each person having the same space to live, and equitable allocation of working space, it is difficult to use physical assets as a source of advancing one person over another. Instead, the community focuses on skills and work ethic to succeed (Deininger, K. and P. OlintoAsset distribution, Inequality, and Growth. Policy Research Working Paper; No. 2375. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2000).
  • There is a direct and positive impact of training on performance and efficiency. When the district presidents train the participants on how to use the system, it will then be possible for them to derive the maximum benefit from it, and alert the agency on any aspects of the system that do not operate optimally. It will also be possible to save district president’s time, which could otherwise be tied trying to guide participants through it (Afroz, N. “Effects of Training on Employee Performance – A Study on Banking Sector, Tangail Bangladesh.” Global Journal of Economics and Business 4.1 (2018): 111 – 124).
  • Just as witnessed with BYOD approaches, having the organization own all the assets used for production levels the playing ground, and may be a positive factor in motivation. For the community, it will also ensure that the community does not scare aware talented people, who may be unable to afford or access the assets they require to live and work in the system (Ranger, S. BYOD: 10 reasons it won’t work for your business. 05 07 2012. 17 06 2019).
  • Automated talent vetting systems, such as those used in e-HRM, have several advantages. They are better equipped to be objective, collect and retain more data, and enhance the communication process. When working properly, their chances of erring are nil.  In some instances, they may not have the human touch needed to make particular judgement calls, given a unique set of circumstances. In such instances, the district president will step in to evaluate and offer guidance (Nawaz, N. and A. Gomes. “Automation of the HR functions enhance the professional efficiency of the HR Professionals-A Review.” International Journal of Management, IT and Engineering 4.2 (2014): 364-373).
  • Asset management policies are aimed at protecting the organization from loss while enabling those given the rights to use them derive maximum value. In the community, policies will be formulated to protect the community’s assets (especially equipment), and the people using them against loss, including third party use, and mitigating any risks (USQICT Information Management and Security Policy. policy document. Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland, 2018).
  • In the case of space, it is important to have clear guidelines to guide tenants’ use of property. This will reduce loss, as well as the risk of any misunderstanding between the two parties. The guidelines also contain some guidelines for the “landlord”, in this case the Leasing Agency. They include a duty to keep the premises habitable, fix any maintenance issues promptly, and regularly monitoring the property (FindlawLandlord Tips for Managing Property. 2019. 15 07 2019).
  • Setting rent rates can be considered as a pricing strategy. Through the community’s different stages, it will want the rent rates to reflect and aid its overall strategy on attracting or limiting membership into the community. Where it needs to attract more, it will adopt penetration pricing, lowering the price relative to the market average. As it grows in prestige, it may aim to make a premium of its superior product, and adopt value based pricing. In all instances however, it must consider its cost of production (cost pricing) (Baker, R. Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Professional Firms. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
  • While not widely embraced, training tenants on effective property use is an important part of a property owner’s strategy to protect their assets. In the community, the participants will be trained to properly use assets, in order to avoid liability, and ensure the property is in the best possible condition to help them (ChrisHow To Train Your Tenants to Respect Your Property. 2011. 16 06 2019).
  • NANCC: The Village/Hub Asset Leasing Agency also liaises with Agency 24 – the Asset Management Agency to ensure that assets procured or developed by the community are enough and fit for use. The two agencies also liaise as the Village/Hub Asset Leasing Agency facilitates the formulation of and later implementation of regulations guiding asset use. The Leasing Agency provides the Asset Management Agency with the information needed to plan on what the community needs, in line with economic considerations, as well as participant entry considerations. For instance, the Leasing Agency may recommend the purchasing of more equipment suited for welders, if the community needs to attract more people with such skills.