This case study aims to show how external advice helped a high technology company develop new customer-focused strategies and increase new business.

The Challenges

The Computer Group supplies high technology services and products. Multimillion turn-over is managed from offices in London, New York and Hong Kong. The company is the largest UK listed technology and consultancy providers. A subsidiary software company supplies high value services to their blue chip clients. Key strengths also created key challenges. First, the technical expertise of its highly qualified personnel did not always position them strongly as advisers to Board level clients. Despite these client perceptions, they had the ability to offer strategic value. Second, client demand and the distributed nature of their work made it difficult for them to focus on internal team goals.

The Approach

The Managing Director decided to address the latter issue first. He appointed an externally certified management consultant to facilitate a number of diagnostic processes. This included the creation of a new vision and objectives. This was followed by an audit of strengths and needs of individual members performed through team workshops. Their purpose was to identify the competencies required for successful networking and relationship building with their internal and external customers at the highest levels.

The Initial Outcomes

Employee consultation on the business plan created common understanding and consensus. This included strategies and objectives for recruitment, training, marketing, sales, finance and communications over the following two years. People clarified their roles in implementing ambitious growth, and shared their priorities in action plans.
A skill audit identified 20 core competencies for the team classified into four areas. These were:

* Analysing client needs
* Managing people and projects
* Teamworking
* Achieving objectives

Individuals were appraised by their peers, by the external consultant, and by themselves against these specific competencies to identify training needs and individual strengths for supporting others. Concurrently, a marketing plan was updated and communicated.

The Roll-Out

Within eight weeks the consultant, Clive Bonny, co-facilitated with the Managing Director the delivery of tailored inter-active workshops using current “real-life” case studies to realign business development strategy with client needs.
The workshops resulted in a “balanced scorecard” to stimulate creative ideas within the team, and allow team leaders to practice and improve their strategic management skills. Further support was supplied with one to one coaching in how to adapt behaviour to differing client styles, training in appraisal and process consulting skills and advice on restructuring for growth. The coaching skills workshops have been further developed for their national sales managers using proven principles of successful sports coaching Inner Game mental fitness.

The Benefits

The Managing Director said: “We only employ people, processes and techniques to put us in a position to give value to customers. Our clients look for strategic advice from individuals who are competent both technically and as business process advisers. External advice has helped greatly, particularly as we have access to a single qualified advisor through the planning and implementation phases.”
The workshops have produced new customer-focused strategies with appropriate levels of intervention and support and substantiated a forecast for a 66% increase in new business.