Posts Tagged ‘Business Growth’

The Poetry of Business Growth

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Business-Solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I deliver Business Growth, by leading a great team

I show them how team success, helps achieve their dreams

The chance to make a difference and to do something good

The chance to build their skills and grow as as they should

 

The chance to provide,  a future for their family

And build this future on merit, success and security

With all the barriers removed and no reason to hide

They will rise to success on the platform I provide

 

I start with Customer Profile and a Value Proposition,

Then the team to deliver, Customer and Revenue ambitions

Efficient and effective with tools, training and skills addition

We Begin and Establish Growth and later Optimise our position

 

From Market Entry to Development, it’s the same approach I feel

Better to use experience and process, and not reinvent the wheel

Diagnose the Challenge first, and then onto Solution creation

And then a project plan,  for controlled Implementation

Can an elephant be agile?

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February 26, 2014 · by Ray · Business Solutions, Project Management

Who says you can’t be big and agile?

agile elephantLou Gerstner of IBM famously said “who says elephants can’t dance?”  Can big organisations act in an agile way? Do they have to throw everything (traditional methodologies) out and start again?  To be agile do you have to go completely Agile and use all Agile methodologies.? Most companies according to research seem to be adopting a hybrid approach. The term Water-Scrum-Fall has been coined by Forrester to describe waterfall processes at beginning and end and Agile (Scrum) in the middle.  It recognizes how many firms blend an approach of writing most requirements up front, using time-boxed sprints to code, and then falling back on traditional big-bang deployments.  Sure there are some companies that are fully agile and Agile but there are some that are fully waterfall but can still adapt sufficiently to their environment. Why? Because they have different problems to solve.

Different customers  require different approaches

Agile methodologies tend to be better in smaller and innovative environments. Waterfall are still best for very large scale project coordination and where features must be delivered at a certain time e.g a datacentre move.

  • Management need a business case. A new product development  requires investment and a return on that investment within a specific time. Management require a business case and a plan and a commitment to deliver. Sufficient planning and detail is required on what will be delivered and when.
  • Operations require predictability. They require new features at a specific time in a way that can be launched without causing outages, or downtime on critical services.
  • Complex projects need co-ordination and formal communication. In complex projects with multiple teams they will be dependent on each other to deliver specif items with specific features at a specific time.
  • Customers have their own preferences. They may or may have the time to be giving constant feedback
  • Are the requirements stable and known, or unstable and unknown?
  • Do critical and expensive resources require to be scheduled?
  • Development teams can only predict so much. The only risk free prediction is when it is delivered. Documenting the future may kill the future.

There is no one size fits all. The trick is to apply the right approach in context, according to the needs of business leaders and recognizing the pace that the organization can successfully absorb new ideas and new methods and if they are right for the problem in hand.

But approach is only a part of a successful solution

Regardless of approach the following parameters will have a large impact on the success or failure of a project.  If there is no management sponsorship then a major project will fail. If the business objectives are not clear then it will fail. The amount of information available upfront may dictate approach. Little information upfront may dictate  an agile approach…but it will probably also mean that only a little money is approved and that approval will be required after every increment. A company that is dominating its market and is deciding to spend some of its cash pile on entering a new market is in a much different position than a company that is a follower in the market and is trying to deliver a large customer contract.

It is more important to be agile than to be religious about Agile methodologies.

Parameters For Success
Market Position & Maturity Product Organisation Culture
Acceptability of Change Management Sponsorship Clear Business Objectives
Strong Customer Involvement Optimal Project Complexity Optimal Project Size
Team Skills Team Emotional Maturity Project Management Expertise
Tools & Infrastructure Information availability

 

Parameters derived from my own research and experience. Used the Chaos Manifesto 2013 for some input. (There are questions over the details of their research but some of the macro stuff seems ok)

I’m definitely agile

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February 26, 2014 · by Ray · Business Solutions, Project Management

Agile & Waterfall

In managing a project to develop and deliver a product the traditional way of delivery are methods such as PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) which is a widely used project management method that provides all of the essentials for running a successful project. It is sequential in that one task is finished before the next starts and the product is delivered at the end and is managed by a plan. Traditional plan based sequential methods are known as generically as “Waterfall”.

agile&waterfallA new way of developing and delivering products is Agile.  It is a term commonly associated with software development. The Agile Manifesto was published in 2001, building on work throughout the 1990s, which summarised the core philosophy behind agile development philosophies. This consists of 4 key values and 12 principles.

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.Through this work we have come to value:

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
4. Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more”.

Agile: From Software Development to Business Change Projects

Agile started out improving software development but the term Agile has evolved into an umbrella for a group of methodologies that can be used to manage business change projects. Agile delivery teams will develop a project :

  • In an iterative and incremental way. In each short phase a delivery team will build part of the system and test it and customers will have some working functionality.  Priority is given to development of most value to the customer. User feedback is used to improve functionality in next iterations. Risk is reduced throughout the project as deliveries are made.
  • By responding to change. A delivery team can respond to valid changes to requirements, changes in technology or customer change.

It is worth noting that Agile, recently, has had a good press and Waterfall a bit of a poor one. However, both have value and can be utilised depending on the problem to be solved. A methodology does not make up for bad management or unreasonable constraints or criteria for success.

Agile: Three Major Approaches

Three of the major Agile approaches are Scrum, XP and DSDM:

  • Scrum – Team Focussed, Light, Empirical Agile
  • eXtreme Programming (XP) – Engineering focussed, Technical, disciplined Agile
  • DSDM – Project focussed, scalable, governable Agile

Agile: A New Paradigm for When Something’s Gotta Give

One of the major developments in thinking in Agile has been a to re-evaluate what should be done in situations where all criteria of success cannot be achieved and trade-offs have to be made – when something’s gotta give:

Triangles-diagramMod

Traditionally the scope or features remained fixed with time, cost and possibly quality having to flex. In Agile  time, cost and quality are fixed and features are flexed. Hopefully to be included in a later iteration. The breakthrough in thinking is that in many developments, too much time is spent upfront, planning and designing based on imperfect or no information, based on what customers think they want, based on technology that is changing. The Agile approach recognizes an imperfect world and tries to adapts to it in the most pragmatic way. This will not work in all circumstances. I’m sure we have all won customer contracts that include developments that are very uncertain but “cast iron” promises have been made to customers on price, on time, on features and on quality. But as I said earlier, good tools don’t make up for bad circumstances or bad management.

Agile: A New Risk Profile

agile-value-deliveryV1This approach of developing in fixed time cost increments with usable releases at the end of each increment getting customer feedback on working software (service, product) can reduce risk, reduce cost,  improve quality and be more adaptable to change. It is a seductive and compelling argument. That and the name Agile (who does not want to be agile?) has meant that Agile has become a meme that is having an increasing impact. It has become about values and behaviours, more about being agile than doing a specific Agile methodology.  This is sometimes dangerous as it means that conversations can become confusing especially as media and companies will use the term agile to increase hits or attract attention. But its always the way with ideas whose time have come, that have crossed the chasm and are ripping through the rest of the market.

More on Scrum

Scrum is the most popular approach for team management at the product delivery level. Data from Forrester’s Q3 2013 Global Agile Software Application Development Online Survey indicates that a whopping 90% of all teams practicing Agile development have adopted Scrum.

Scrum-ProcessV2

User stories in the form of “As a <type of user>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>” are used to create individual requirements that go into a product backlog that is prioritised by value. Those that are committed to be delivered in the iteration or  next development cycle called a sprint are put into the Sprint backlog. Sprints can be from 1 week to a month depending on the development environment.

10-scrum-rules

Daily scrum meetings are stand-up for 15 minutes where progress is monitored, commitments made and impediments aired.

There are weekly planning and review meetings . Artifacts are light and include the product backlog (requirements), sprint backlog ( deliverables in this sprint), burndown charts (a monitor of value delivered and sprint velocity).

Agile & Waterfall Comparison

A comparison of Waterfall and Agile is shown below. Please note that either tool in the wrong hands can deliver poor results and in the right hands can deliver excellent results. It’s a matter of choosing the right tool for the job.

Attribute Waterfall Agile
Communication Bias Written Face-to-Face Conversation
Artifacts & Ceremonies Heavier Lighter
Documentation Heavier Lighter
Customer Relationship Negotiation Collaboration
Change Costly- Control Less Costly-Welcomed
Risk through project Risky till end Risk decreases throughout
Management Command&Control Trust to Self Organize
Prioritisation By Plan By Value
Delivery At end or large increments In smaller increments
Design & Planning Mostly Upfront Minimal Upfront&Throughout
When Something's Gotta Give Time&Cost Scope or Features
Strength Large Scale Projects Innovative software development
Questions Stifle Innovation? Corporate Governance and Project Management?
Team Size All Sizes Optimally Smaller
Team Location All Locations Optimally Co-Located
Predictability Can be more Can Be less
Learn and Improve Yes Yes

Sales Problems may point to poor Product Management & Product Marketing

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February 21, 2014 · by Ray · Business Solutions, High Performance Sales Team, Marketing

Sales problems are very visible.

 

Targets are not met. Customers are not acquired. Pipelines are not healthy. Forecasts are not met.

Often the immediate reaction is to blame the sales personnel. Typical questions are: Are they working hard enough. Are they working smart enough? Do they  have the right relationships. Are they looking in the wrong places. Do they understand customer problems?  Do they understand the product value? Can they present the value of the product effectively?

Diagnose, Create & Deliver

Diagnose, Create, Deliver

While sales personnel can always up their game, in many cases the root problems can be elsewhere. If Product Management and Product Marketing processes been ignored, or not done correctly then the following problems may be diagnosed

 

Diagnosis

  • Do product differentiators exist and are they understood?
  • Is product positioning clear and understood?
  • Have the correct target market segments been identified?
  • Is the product fully developed and bug free?
  • Does the product provide the whole solution for the customer or are partner products required?
  • Is the product perceived as too expensive?
  • Is the value of the product understood and presented well enough?
  • Are the value messages available for all of the key players in the customer organisation?
  • Do suitable message vehicles exist? Do sales tools exist?
  • Are there reference customers available that are acceptable to target customers?

Create & Deliver Solution

A solution must then be created and delivered. Depending on the organisation this may be done by Product Management and Product Marketing.

Product management is inward focussed and product marketing is outward focussed.

  • Utilise Differentiators – Articulate product differentiators, and combine with customer profiling and competitive analysis to position products correctly and to drive messaging.
  • Prioritise Target Customers – Utilise market analysis and product positioning to prioritise demand generation and sales activities
  • Finalise Development – Create project plan and obtain high level management sponsorship  to finalise development.
  • Create Whole Solution – The construction of the solution may be done directly or via a third party such as an integrator. In Early markets the customer will normally provide this function either directly or via a third party.
  • Execute Pricing Review – Ensure that value is demonstrated clearly by better presentation or if required a pricing reduction or re-organization.
  • Create Better Value Presentation – Include all the value elements and simplify presentation in line with the customer financial modelling. Include as a standard sales tool.
  • Acquire Reference Customers – Provide sufficient support to sales personnel to target and acquire reference customers.

Project management methodologies and tools can be used  as appropriate to deliver solutions efficiently and effectively.

Achieving Business Growth

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Diagnose Challenges, Create Solutions & Deliver Results

Challenge

The overriding challenge in sales and marketing is “To deliver business growth”.

How to Address

Take the right approach.No one size fits all. So to be most efficient and effective it is best to:

  • Diagnose Challenge,
  • Create Solution & then
  • Deliver Results.

The challenges will fall into two broad categories

  • Enter new markets or
  • Develop existing ones.

Diagnose Challenge

The main ingredients of success are:

  • Strategy,
  • Sales team (& infrastructure),
  • Customer acquisition( tailored sales process, product value, & customer references)
Which of these ingredients are in place? If they are in place are they fit for purpose and achieving acceptable performance?

Create Solution

Following the diagnosis of the challenges a bespoke solution may be created.

Create/Develop Strategy

Planning means that subsequent action will effective and efficient.

  • Create customer profile,
  • Value proposition,
  • Go to Market strategy,
  • Sales process,
  • Sales team,
  • Targets.

Create/Develop Sales Team

This includes Leadership, Scalable Sales Model and Hiring the best people.

Leadership means that the team energised, have clear objectives, are fully engaged and deliver the required targets wit the required cost. The team is supported by a  scalable sales model which includes:

  • Sales Process based on Customer Buying Process
  • Sales Management System to to deliver forecasts and processes for coaching and performance management
  • Sales Automation that improves the efficiency of communication, customer database and reporting.
  • Marketing Integration for lead generation, sales tools,  messaging and effective market coverage.

Hire the best people. Utilise a clear and professional process to identify and develop people with high potential.

Begin/Develop Customer Acquisition

Customer Acquisition is vital for revenue Growth and the creation of references to enable later customers to be acquired more efficiently. Both are key attributes of business growth.

First ensure product delivers compelling value. as perceived by the customers. Then create or develop references.
To win major breakthrough accounts will require the creation of a tailored sales process based on the customers buying process. This will help harness the resources of the company effectively, manage communication and monitor progress.

Deliver Results

Results will be best delivered by effective leadership and professional project management.Leadership ensures that clear objectives are set and resources to deliver such objectives are secured.Then the team to deliver the results is engaged such that they are fully committed to deliver superb results.Finally the results are delivered with progress monitored and reported on at regular intervals to keep stakeholders informed.

3 Step Plan to Deliver Business Growth

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October 4, 2011 · by Ray · Business Solutions
What are the steps required to deliver business growth?
Business Growth may be delivered using a three stage approach:
  • Step 1: Diagnosis – What are the Business Challenges? What are the growth objectives? What is the current sales and marketing infrastructure and what needs to be provided?
  • Step 2: Design –  How can Business Growth be achieved?  Design the Solution
  • Step 3: Implement & Report.

Step 1: Diagnosis

“Diagnose before you Prescribe”. Covey.

Diagnose Business Challenges to create Solution

If the diagnosis is not correct then the solution may well be inappropriate or incorrect.

What are  the Business Challenges?

  • What are the Growth Objectives and supporting Business Plan?
  • Is New Market Entry required –
    • Early (New Products to Market),
    • Mainstream (Moving from Early Adopters/Innovators into broader Mainstream market or
    • Geographic?
  • Is Development of Existing Market required?
    • Does a Business Development/Improvement Plan exist?
  • Does an acceptable  Sales Strategy exist?
  • Does a Sales Team exist that is fit for purpose?
    • Create, develop or radically improve?
    • Is the sales infrastructure sufficient (Hiring Process, Reward System, Sales Process,Sales Management System & Sales Automation system)?
    • Is Marketing Support sufficient and integrated with sales (Sales Tools, Sales Training, Lead Generation, Market Coverage)?
  • What Major Accounts are required?
    • Do references exist?
    • Is there sufficient support infrastructure (Tailored Sales Process)?

Step 2: Solution Design

Having diagnosed and agreed the Business Challenges in detail, the Solution may now be designed. Depending on the Business Challenges the Solution will include some or all of the modules.

Choose Solution to fit Challenge

 

A full Market Entry solution will require all three solutions:
  • Create Strategy
  • Create New Sales Team
  • Win New Major Accounts
In some situations a suitable Strategy will exist but help is required to execute it. This will require:-
  • Create New Sales Team
  • Win New Major Accounts
In other cases an acceptable Sales Strategy and Sales Team exists but need to implement a Major Account sales process and to create positive references. In this case only one solution (Major Accounts) is required.
In other cases all the solutions are in place but are not fit for purpose or are not functioning correctly. In this case all elements mus be diagnosed and, if faulty, remedied. In addition the product must be diagnosed to ensure that expected value is being presented and delivered and that positive references are being created.

Sales & Marketing Strategy. This is designed to deliver Business Growth and other Objectives

Sales (& Marketing) Strategy

Use information on  customer profile, geographic profile,  product maturity, the competition and the strength of the vendor to shape the strategy. Develop Value Propositions as required to suit the particular product and customer profile.


A High Performance Sales Team Plan

Create a High Performance Sales & Marketing Team

A High Performance  Sales Team  will achieve effectiveness and efficiency. It  will strive for best in class Personnel Hire, Reward System, Sales Process, Sales Management System, Sales Automation System & Marketing Integration.
Marketing plan will include Lead Generation, Messaging Strategy and Sales Tools using Online and Offline techniques.

 

Win Major Accounts Plan

Win Breakthrough Major Accounts

Winning New Major Accounts will facilitate entry and growth within a target market segment. It requires a tailored sales process, A Value Proposition based on differentiators, positive references and detailed plans at account and opportunity level.

Step 3: Implementation

The solution may now be implemented. Project Management tools are used to measure progress and report on success.
Depending on the Business Challenges, some or all of the following market specific hurdles may need to be overcome:
  • Limited Resources
  • Immature Infrastructure
  • Customer Expectations too high
  • Product Development Required
  • Solution Development Required
  • Partner Management Required

Business Consultancy? What does it offer…

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August 11, 2011 · by Ray · Business Solutions
Consultant

A Good Business Consultant delivers Business Improvement

What do Good Business Consultants do?

  • They improve business performance
  • They deliver tangible results
  • They relentlessly seek to deliver tangible value
I consider some of the perceived problems of Business Consultants and then consider what good Business Consultants can offer.

What are the Problems with Business Consultants?

Question: What does a consultant do if you ask him the time?

Answer: He asks to borrow your watch, he tells you the time and then walks off with your watch.

The word consultant does have some baggage, basically because it has become a term that has been used too much to mean too many things ….some of them negative. And without a well known brand name behind it the negative baggage may come to the fore.

It is associated in some minds with many initiatives that delivered few quantifiable benefits. It is associated with high costs  and sometimes with a  lack of drive, initiative and creativity.

And of course unlike a doctor or a lawyer, anyone can call themselves a consultant.

Without the support of a well known consultancy brand then some of the negative market perceptions of Business Consultancy may dominate  in the mind of a prospective customer and a focus on value becomes even more essential.

I have asked some questions below to answer a few questions that may explain the benefits that good business consultants can offer.

What Areas do they Work in?

  • Management Consulting 16% (  Operations Management(inc. Sales& Marketing) 43%, Strategy 31%,HR 20%, IT strategy & planning 6%)
  • IT Outsourcing 36%
  • Business Process Outsourcing 28%
  • Systems Integration 20%

Why do Clients Hire them?

  • People needs
    • Specialist skills or a level of knowledge they lack internally
  • Thinking needs
    • A different perspective
    • Gather and analyse data to back up perspective
    • Challenge long term assumptions
  • Process and technology needs
    • Transferring an idea into reality
    • Provide best practice and thought leadership
    • Provide the focus the deliver on time and to budget

How do they Deliver Business Improvement ?

  • Specialist Projects
    • Utilize specialist knowledge
  • Integrated Solutions
    • Large scale change
  • Strategic Advice
    • Generate business insight
    • Focus on advisory work rather than implementation

What Business Improvement do they deliver?

  • Improve effectiveness – getting the desired result (doing the right thing)
  • Improve efficiency – getting it quickly (doing the thing right)
  • Delivered with economy – getting it at a reasonable market rate
    • Smaller firms with the right specialist knowledge, experience and tools can offer economy and flexible engagement models.

What kind of Consultancy Firms are there?

  • Traditional Delivery (Almost all skills in house)
    • Relationship
      • e.g. Mc Kinsey, Bain. Mainly focussed on effectiveness projects such as strategy advice
    • Product
      • e.g. Simon-Kucher. Top line growth through advising on pricing and marketing.
  • Hub & Spoke Delivery (Hub with brand, support and winning business with spoke as associates/partners for delivery)
    • Broker Firms
      • e.g. Eden McCallum. Cope well with variable income stream with variable cost base.  They co-ordinate the resources necessary to deliver a broad range of consulting services to clients
    • Diversifying Firms
      • e.g.  Xerox. Company with historical product heritage and use it a launch pad into the world of professional services.
  • Integrator ( Prime contractor managing subcontractors/partners as required)
    • Transformation Firms
      • e.g. IBM/Accenture. Moving from transactions to transformation. Requires (1) scale to deliver results – organizational and financial. (2) Depth of knowledge and (3) correct fusion of business(consulting & outsourcing) and technology. Is about long term continuous improvement and relationships.
    • Transaction Firms
      • e.g. CapGemini,LogicaCMG,EDS. Small number of large deals focussed on on large scale systems delivery or outsourcing. Tend to be one off deals rather than continuous.

What does a Good Consultant offer?

  • Relentless effort  to increase value for customers
  • Trust
  • Specialist knowledge
    • And continuous learning to maintain knowledge
  • Breadth of Experience
  • Perspective
  • Good interpersonal & communication skills and an ability to inspire trust
  • Development of case histories, best practice and tools
  • Thought Leadership (truely original or at least original to the organisation..most customers are happy with ideas that are pragmatic and have well defined case histories that demonstrate tangible value delivered.)
  • Ability to manage projects  that will deliver tangible business improvement

What is the Best Method of Promoting Business Consultancy?

Lead with Value

It is better that they lead with the tangible value that they can deliver very clearly as otherwise they will not brand themselves positively in the mind of the prospective audience. Without the support of a well known consultancy brand then this approach becomes essential as some of the negative market perceptions of Business Consultancy may dominate.