Situation: A CEO faces challenges with clients. The first is vague customer specs because they don’t understand the product. Second is misunderstandings as to timelines. Third is insistence on strict timelines while simultaneously demanding revisions to previous work. How do you add more discipline to quotes and pricing?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Is the company’s technology strategy aligned with its capabilities? Currently the company is trying to build advanced solutions in multiple international markets with a small staff. There does not seem to be the technology or development discipline to convert current capabilities into a sustainable market advantage.
- For near term focus, because of commitments and milestone payments due from the key customers, focus resources on finishing the last piece of these projects. Once this is done, step back. Look at options and determine the company’s technology strategy moving forward.
- The key challenge is to define ONE beachhead on which the company will focus and which they can dominate. The objective is to leverage existing engineering creativity to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
- As this exercise is designed, start with a clean slate. Don’t burden the process with a lot of restrictive assumptions. Consider using an outside facilitator to help facilitate this process.
- Until this exercise is completed does it really make sense to seek additional work or to commit the company to the next phases with current customers?
- Once the company has selected and committed to a technology strategy, the decision process becomes different.
- The objective is to develop laser-like focus on the technology. Minimize distracting the team with other opportunities.
- It may be OK to lose money on development projects if this work will significantly impact or accelerate the development of the company’s core technology.
- How does the company justify asking for payment for development for future projects?
- First, determine and clearly state the company’s technology strategy. Evaluate all future development projects and decisions in terms of their alignment with this strategy.
- Second, if a particular project is completely aligned with the technology strategy, the company may waive the requirement of payment for development. This, ideally, will be the only exception.
- Ask for a limited time/scope project to jump start and define new projects. This provides proof of company capabilities and establishes its credibility.
- If is it necessary to negotiate or bid, start high and bargain down to but not below the best estimate of the cost of development.
- Remember that deciding what NOT to do or quote is often harder, but just as critical, as deciding what to quote.