How To Avoid Becoming The Subject Of An Implementation Horror Story

Monday, November 08, 2010 - Permalink
Avoiding being the subject of a “horror story” told by a customer is high on the priority list of most businesses.  Our research has found that the vast majority of horror stories involve failures in implementation.

One of the ways we’ve seen firms avoid this situation is an explicit process through which they and their customers agree on performance scorecards, defining the metrics that matter and the achievement levels that are considered to be appropriate targets.  While some exceptions exist, we’ve found over and over that reasonable agreement can be reached on both the metrics and the targets.

There are two major advantages of doing this.  First is avoiding after-the-fact charges of unacceptable performance.  When the targets are clear and known, that type of finger pointing is eliminated.  Second and more important, well-understood targets allow the supplier’s management team to take the actions needed to meet the targets, including corrective actions if their firm isn’t hitting targets that they had previously agreed to as reasonable.

No firm should ever be surprised to hear it was the subject of a horror story told by a customer.

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"Take Time Out" To Differentiate Your Firm From the Competition

Monday, November 01, 2010 - Permalink
When looking at the question of how to compete, the options involve a product or service advantage, a price advantage, and a relationship advantage.  In recent years, we’ve found many instances in which strong project management skills create an effective service advantage.  This is particularly true for construction projects associated with new facilities or modernization or expansion programs.

The benefit to the customer often involves “taking time out” – completing the project more quickly.  An oil and gas company which was doing repairs on a refinery calculated the value of a day saved in the millions of dollars.  We saw a similar valuation from a telecommunications firm rolling out a new network upgrade.  Firms with a strong implementation competency are the ones that are able to deliver this contribution to their customers and win business as a result.  Showing your customer how much time your project plan can save, and translating that into dollar benefits, can be a genuine basis of differentiation from the competition.

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Planning For Good And Bad Business Environments

Monday, October 25, 2010 - Permalink
In 2008-09, as the recession took hold, we observed some incredibly solid plans for managing into a downturn.  Relative to prior recessions, firms were very skilled in quickly cutting inventories and taking other actions, many painful, to get through the difficult times that were coming.

What is interesting is how many of these same firms have told us about how hard it is to get their organizations ready to implement growth plans as markets improve.  We’ve had numerous organizations tell us “We’ve missed some chances this year because we weren’t ready.” 

One of the reasons for this is that when growth resumes after a recession, it’s always a bit different than what took place in prior years.  We find that the firms that are best able to take advantage of growth are ones that look at different scenarios, and put implementation plans into place that are able to respond to a changed business environment.

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Aligning Implementation

Friday, October 15, 2010 - Permalink
In our research on implementation, we’ve seen over and over that successful firms think about their external relationships as part of their Get-to-Market Plans.

It’s not just avoiding clashes.  It involves ensuring that processes link correctly when they have to do so.  It involves making sure that each party to a business relationship understands their own roles and responsibilities.  It involves making sure the two firms are interacting often enough and at the right places to get ahead of problems and opportunities.  It involves making sure that discussions are focused on the future, not looking in the rear view mirror.

One of the things we’ve learned is that strong leaders of implementation projects carefully think about the impacts of their plans on their firm’s business partners, be it suppliers, distributors, or customers.  Then they bring them into the process and make sure both parties are aligned.

What are your thoughts on how firms can ensure that their strategic plans are successfully implemented?

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"Understanding the customer chain is the lever for value creation in any business. Companies that follow the path outlined in CoDestiny will unlock growth opportunities, build customer loyalty, motivate employees, and grow shareholder value."

David D. Petratis, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Quanex Building Products, Houston, TX, and former President and Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric North America
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