Monthly Archives: February 2014

How Do You Focus Managers on Process? Five Factors

Situation: A company has goals and objectives in place for the whole company. The challenge is that they need to focus top managers on effective processes and not just on their team’s objectives. In particular they want to increase focus on cross-functional processes. How do you focus managers on process?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start by identifying all critical processes. Once this is done, build an in-house system to track these.
    • Make contingency decisions dependent upon sticking with the processes.
    • Consistent follow-through is essential – talk through the blocks as they arise.
    • Don’t become a slave to your own system. Stay flexible and allow appropriate non-prescriptive behavior/solutions where it makes sense. This helps to feed creativity in the organization.
  • Be an advocate/cheerleader for the new culture. Employees need ongoing encouragement as they shift focus to the new regime.
  • Build an underlying culture to support your processes. This takes time and persistence.
  • If you are growing, as you hire new people, select new employees who fit the new culture. This helps to create lead models for the rest of the group.
  • By definition, growth means increasing infrastructure, which in turn means more restrictions and rules. Keep it fun. For example, create a wine penalty for missing deadlines.
    • If you’re late on your deliverable you have to contribute a good bottle of wine, with your name and the month that you were late on a tag attached to the bottle.
    • Contributed bottles of wine are shared at the company Christmas or holiday party.

How Do You Test for New Product Appeal? Three Suggestions

Situation:  A company was challenged by a client to design a product to demonstrate the capabilities of the client’s processor.  The result was a wonderful success, and has received very positive press. The client does not care about the product, only about their processor. How does the company test the appeal and potential marketability of the new product?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Go to a local arcade, for example one operated by Golfland USA or a multiplex theater. Show them your product and ask whether you can test it for appeal with their customers. This will enable you to measure coin-drop numbers and generate demand and market appeal data. With these data you can assess the value of either selling or licensing the product.  The objective is to see whether the product generates sustainable demand, or whether it is just a short-lived curiosity.
    • The big issue with a product like this is very simple – is it addictive?
  • If your initial tests show that the product generates sustained interest and revenue it is similar to a console game. There are a number of avenues to pursue, including:
    • Early exclusives use agreements with casino or theater chains – it will have value if it helps them to drive traffic to their venues.
    • Novelty markets – corporate events, etc.
  • Other options:
    • Evaluate a lease model for target venues.
    • Consider selling the product to air table companies as a demo unit.

How Do You Negotiate Milestone Contracts? Three Suggestions

Situation:  A company’s contracts are based on milestones versus time and materials. This is common for their industry.  However, end products are poorly defined at project outset and product requirements frequently evolve and change, making milestones squishy. How do you negotiate milestone contracts and payment schedules?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • In addition to payment schedule, there are four elements to a project negotiation – specifications, schedule, project flow, and budget. Tell the client that to hit their budget target, they need to give you control of any two of the other three factors. This means that if they want to specify budget and schedule, then they have to yield you control of the specs and project flow. Any change to these means that they have to be willing to change budget and/or delivery date. Finally, to keep the project going on a timely basis, they must make milestone payments on time and on schedule.
  • Try to transform the project, as much as possible, to time and materials. Here’s your talk line:
    • To give you 100 hours of effort on a fixed bid basis, we have to budget 110. Time and materials, in the long run is less expensive because you only pay for what we need to deliver your product.
    • Your credibility to deliver on a time and materials basis will be based on past performance and the relationships that you have developed with your clients.
  • Milestone contracts are especially difficult in low margin industries because of project variability. One solution is to bid 130 hours cost for 100 hours work. The challenge is that this looks uncompetitive, especially compared with offshore resources. Therefore, an option is to develop offshore capability so that you can deliver your projects using a variety of resources with variable costs. Price everything based on domestic prices, but use offshore resources to improve your margins and your ability to cover project overruns without killing your profits.

What’s the Best Way to Sell a Domain Name? Five Suggestions

Situation: A company has a domain name that they no longer use. They have been approached by a domain reseller that wants rights to sell the name for a percentage of the sale price. The reseller is talking big money for the name. What are the best options for selling a domain name?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The offer may look interesting, but you want to compare it with other options. These include Godaddy.com or buydomains.com. Compare both the price for selling the name and the estimates of what the domain name is worth. Look at how each would market the name, and their record for selling names. Compare their responses with the offer from the reseller that contacted you.
  • Get an appraisal on the name. Valuate.com offers a free tool to appraise a domain name, or you can look at GoDaddy for assistance in valuing your domain name under their Support section.
  • Have a contract attorney look at the reseller’s contract for hidden traps.
  • Get references from this reseller and check them out before signing anything.
  • If you move forward, make sure that you choose the escrow company. One CEO recommends Escrow.com for domain name sales.