As is typically the case in IT, the primary challenge of developing or optimizing an automated business development and capture management process relates to people, not technology. However, overcoming cultural resistance is easier by following these steps.
- Think big picture. Business development is everyone’s responsibility, said Scott Campbell, senior executive consultant at Robbins-Gioia, a program management consulting firm. “It doesn’t mean that there aren’t official roles and responsibilities associated with business development, but there needs to be a mindset that pervades the company’s culture,” he said. “Employees, no matter their role, ought always to be thinking about how the company can provide greater value and looking for customer pain points.”
- Take the lead. That culture needs to start with top executives, who need to take the opportunity to understand their business capture capabilities and gaps, keep a hand in the development of a good process and pound the pulpit on business development. In all communications vehicles, they need to impart the messages that identifying and capturing new business is critical to the overall success of the company and territorialism won’t be tolerated. They should emphasize that all leads and information are company assets that are to be valued, shared and managed effectively. “Generally, it’s the leadership that sets the tone, and when they do, they can expect much better results,” said Bill Scheessele, president and CEO of Mastering Business Development Inc.
- Know thyself. Many employees are subject-matter experts in their own narrow subjects. To get better at identifying business opportunities, companies should train employees on all of the core capabilities of the company and how they work in tandem to provide value to potential customers. “If you don’t have that context, it can be hard to recognize business opportunities when they present themselves,” Campbell said.
- Know your customer. By the same token, employees should be encouraged to understand the vision, mission and tasks of customers and potential customers.
- Simplify whenever possible. As companies go about defining and setting up a process to collect, share and track business development opportunities, they need to make sure that the process aligns with how their personnel work and isn’t so cumbersome that already-busy people refuse or fail to use it as part of their daily tasks. Require the minimum number of steps to be effective.
- Accept help. When possible, companies should consider investing in dedicated resources to manage the business development process, Campbell said. “In this current environment, where people are going a million miles an hour, making this extra investment will help keep the company’s eyes above the treetops and maintain that broader visibility on the opportunities that are out there,” he said.
- Train, train, train. Whatever tools are chosen, whether commercial, customized or homegrown, employees — across the enterprise, from top executives to administrative staff members — need to be educated on how to use them in the context of the company’s individual business development process, said Robert Lohfeld, founder and CEO of Lohfeld Consulting. In time, as the process and tools are tweaked, training should be updated and refreshed.
About the Author: Heather Hayes is a freelance writer based in Clifford, VA – as published 5/3/2011 in Washington Technology at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/05/02/STRATEGY-Top-Contractor-tools-sidebar.aspx?p=1.