Tag Archives: Revision

How Do You Add More Discipline to Quotes and Pricing? Four Points

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.

How Do You Gain Commitment to Plan Revisions? Three Thoughts

Situation: A company goes through an annual strategic planning process followed by an annual business planning process. At mid-year they do a review and correction. The challenge is that if the company is behind plan, the management team does not take ownership of plan revisions – it becomes “the CEO’s Plan.” How do you gain commitment to revisions in the annual plan?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Throw out your current process and start over.
    • The challenge is to gain more buy-in and accountability. This only comes if the targets come from those responsible for delivering them – both for the original plan and if any revisions need to be made.
    • Look at who you involve within the organization – can you drive involvement deeper to generate additional buy-in across the organization?
    • Hire an outside facilitator to guide you through the process instead of chairing the meeting yourself. This prevents the resulting plan from becoming “your” plan. It also changes the culture of the meeting as well as the buy-in.
  • If you use a bottom-up / top-down process, moderate the plan results with an eye to two realities:
    • Bottom-up input from the sales team is rarely more pessimistic than the CEO’s input. If it is ask what is happening.
    • Make sure that your top-down numbers are empirical and based on the best market research that you can obtain.
  • If your plans have consistently fallen short over recent years:
    • You may be baking the targets too high.
    • Consider building the revenue plan optimistically, but build the expense plan conservatively. This helps control expenses and attain profitability targets.
    • So that the two plans are not misaligned, review them more frequently – perhaps quarterly on a formal basis with monthly reviews – so that if your revenue plan is meeting targets you can adjust spending to support production and delivery.
    • It is common to have one set of numbers for sales and a different, more conservative, number for expenses. As long as you conduct frequent review and adjustment of the expense number to sales performance, this works. Many companies also use different targets for operations than what they present to the Board – with the more conservative numbers for the Board.