Last Tuesday, strategy employees from all over the country and different industries came to pre-Christmas Nuremberg once again to participate in this year’s SOLYP3 Key Users Circle. In addition to many familiar faces we were happy to welcome some new ones as well. Following the established event format, two of our customers—JOB AG and BASF—presented their strategic planning and controlling processes and explained how the Strategic Intelligence Software SOLYP3 supports those processes.
"Are we Doing the Right Things Right?" – Strategic Planning at JOB AG
In a compelling presentation, Ines Jahreis first examined the question why a national HR management firm such as JOB AG needs strategic planning at all. She explained that profound economic and social transformation processes as well as the ever increasing pace, uncertainty, and complexity of today’s market environment forces enterprises to constantly rethink their business models. The key question every company or strategist needs to ask is: "Are we doing the right things right?"
To answer this question, the strategy process of JOB AG follows an adapted Direttissima logic (see fig. 1). In a first step, the relevant market is defined, analyzed, and assessed in terms of potential opportunities and risks as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the own company and the competitors. Based on this assessment, strategic five-year-objectives and the strategic positioning (customer value) are determined. Finally, as part of the strategy execution, the five-year objectives are broken down into SMART annual objectives for each division, branch, and employee, and appropriate strategic measures are derived.
Fig. 1: Adapted Direttissima logic as the basis of strategy development implemented in SOLYP3 navigation
As Ines Jahreis went on to explain, SOLYP3 was introduced at JOB AG on the initiative of the board which wanted a common tool for all divisions and branches of the company. Main reasons for choosing SOLYP3 over other software solutions were the improved clarity and comparability of planning data, the possibility of top-down/bottom-up data entry, and the significantly reduced work load. An immediate positive effect of introducing the software was that branches are now forced to "look critically at their own performance and their environment," Jahreis said. As it turned out, many branches were not aware of who their main competitors were and how they differed from them (or not).
Some features of SOLYP3 which Ines Jahreis praised included the external data upload (here: data from the German federal employment agency), multiple reporting options, the SOLYP3 Help Wiki, and the SOYLP3 dashboards which are used by JOB AG primarily in order to review the planning progress (see fig. 2).
Fig. 2: SOLYP3 dashboard: Data entry activity and progress
Strategic Controlling at the Largest Chemicals Company in the World
Florian Weisenbach also stressed the importance of great transformation processes for long-term success, explaining that in response to global megatrends, such as population growth, resource scarcity, and urbanization, BASF has developed a new corporate strategy under the motto: "We create chemistry for a sustainable future!" Through innovative products and solutions in various industries, the chemicals giant intends to “contribute to conserving resources, ensuring good nutrition, and improving quality of life.”
In its strategy work, BASF relies on SOLYP3 since 2009. The software is used for strategic planning, strategic controlling, R&D controlling, and industry surveys. The annual strategic controlling process, Weisenbach explained, follows a bottom-up approach from the 83 strategic business units (SBUs) to the functional and regional strategies to the umbrella strategy for the group as a whole. Given the wide breath of the portfolio, Weisenbach noted, one could imagine that "it is not always easy to integrate so many SBUs into a standardized controlling process." Without appropriate software support, this is barely manageable.
Data input into SOLYP3 takes place in an "interplay between the SBUs and the central strategic controlling department." With the help of centrally predefined questionnaires, all SBUs need to provide information on the following issues: market attractiveness, competitiveness, growth objectives, capital expenditures, R&D expenditure and relevance, acquisitions, and—particularly important—unique selling proposition and differentiation factors. The controlling department monitors the progress and provides feedback to the SBUs, when needed. The output is a uniform and clearly structured six-slide PowerPoint presentation for each SBU, allowing target/performance comparisons as well as the identification of cross-functional trends. An aggregated group report is finally submitted by the central controlling department to the board for a decision.
In addition to improved standardization and automation, another important advantage of SOLYP3 is the possibility to enter data anytime, anywhere, and simultaneously without conflict, Weisenbach stressed. In each of BASF’s 83 SBUs, there are multiple employees involved in the strategic controlling process who now can all work with the tool at the same time.
SOLYP3 Product Developments
At the end of the one-day event, Jan Borchers and Martin Rügamer gave the participants an overview of the SOLYP3 developments of the past twelve months and the product innovations that are currently in the pipeline. More detailed information on this will follow shortly in a separate press release!
We would like to kindly thank the speakers as well as participants and are already looking forward to the next SOLYP3 Key Users Circle in 2015!