How Information Turns Into Efficient Know-how

Thursday, 13. June 2013

In a dynamic world market, companies have to deal with enormous complexities when developing their goals and measures. Even the best strategist can hardly cope with this task without system support. Fortunately, there are tools that enable strategists and decision-makers, who make a point of a continuous development of goals and measures in their strategic planning, to keep track. Today, we would like to introduce you to such a tool: the Initiative Focus. It allows businesses to manage the initiative of all planning units, align them with the overall corporate goals, and evaluate their effectiveness – not only with regards to financial key figures, but also under consideration of soft data. Thus the process of developing goals and measures is considerably improved and accelerated.

Strategic goals are the prerequisite for being able to make sound decisions in a company. The challenge of reaching these goals lies in the development of suitable initiatives: How do you generate goal-oriented initiatives and how can they be assessed with reference to the goals? The Initiatives Focus developed by SOLYP is a tool which keeps hold of strategic goals and at the same time enables all relevant planning units to develop and determine suitable initiatives.

The questionnaire-based, standardized approach to data collection which is integrated in the Initiatives Focus makes the initiatives comparable for the company headquarters and thus guarantees a complete data base. This tool allows a decentralized collection of data directly by the respective local planning units, offering a major benefit especially for widely ramified business companies operating across national borders: With the Initiatives Focus, these companies can comprehensively represent their goals and initiatives and correlate them. In this way, the best possible initiatives meeting the company’s requirements and serving for reaching its goals are positively identified and implemented. At the same time the highest possible flexibility is kept, as all goals and measures are continuously adjusted to the actual development, thus allowing quick course corrections.

Only the Staff Turns Initiatives into Value

In a world of increasing complexity, the goal-oriented management of a company is limited without systematized and standardized processes. Comprehensive and detailed knowledge about stakeholders, trends, market environment, and market developments is required. And goals always have to be kept in mind. A “good nose,” i.e. an increased sensibility for market moods and changes, also is important. This is the daily business of strategists, but they, too, often become desperate in view of the sometimes seemingly insolvable problem of interpreting the right information at the right time in the right way and drawing the right conclusions.

Particularly in companies with complex organizational structures and international business activities large funds are invested for getting significant information about the market and evaluating it. Using strategic planning software, the companies can collect and utilize their employees’ know-how in totally new dimensions. Thus their employees become contributors and co-thinkers. After all, the specialists in the strategic planning units are the ones who know their respective market best and can introduce their know-how and their detailed ideas for reaching the company goals by using such a tool. Thus information turns into real know-how. The Initiatives Focus is a management tool with a strong leaning towards the rank-and-file, as it works in two directions: Top-down goal setting and bottom-up data collection – always from the source. In the “top-down/bottom-up approach,” the head office specifies the company goals and in return receives the suitable initiatives.

Initiatives Focus as Driver for Innovation

With the right tool, such as the Initiative Focus of SOYLP Informatik GmbH, companies are able to optimize their initiatives with respect to their goals, thus developing maximum efficiency. The Initiatives Focus covers all phases of developing goals and measures in the company and leads you through the decision-making process in a structured and consequent way. Initiatives relevant for reaching the goals are identified and evaluated in the overall context.

When centrally entering data, two different data types – complementing each other – are in the focus: Hard financial figures (e.g., increase in profit) and soft data which cannot be determined in terms of figures (e.g., innovation leadership or the definition of initiatives). The utilization of soft data is a core competence of SOLYP Informatik GmbH and the unique feature of the strategic planning software SOLYP3. The soft data can be linked to the hard figures, taking the quality of the strategic data to a completely new level.

A central function of the Initiatives Focus is the aggregate SWOT analysis: In the system, relevant data from external and internal analyses is collected, aggregated, and compared. Assuming a significant data base, the aggregate SWOT analysis provides answers to vital questions such as: What strengths allow a company to take advantage of existing opportunities? What weaknesses increase the potential risks? The respective cross products of external and internal assessment result in challenges which might or might not correspond to the specified goals. Thus, the decision-makers in the company are able to concentrate on those challenges that correspond to their specified goals. This focusing secures considerable time savings in the further course of the planning.

Initiative Focus SWOT
Aggregate SWOT analysis

For each challenge identified by means of the aggregate SWOT analysis, the strategic planning units develop corresponding initiatives and enter them in the system. Apart from the description of the measures to be taken, this data collection also comprises an assessment and a forecast of the benefit to be expected, of the financial impact, and of the feasibility of each initiative. This process can be iterated. It is important that in the end there are enough initiatives for positively fuelling all strategic challenges.

Finally, the software aggregates all data and gives an overview of the initiatives developed in the company. These are then aligned with the goals and resources. Here, the attention may be drawn to initiatives which so far have not or insufficiently been perceived or appreciated. Thus the Initiatives Focus not only serves as an orientation, but at the same time it is a valuable innovation tool.

Reality Check with the Initiatives Portfolio

After all initiatives have been recorded and selected, an evaluation process takes place. The initiatives are evaluated on a certain basis: e.g., how many new customers can be won or what the financial impact might be. The Initiatives Portfolio is measured on two axes which are oriented on the specified goals. The axes can, for example, be the feasibility of an initiative or the predicted financial impact. This allows a first selection of all initiatives entered. The initiatives which at this point prove to be unrealistic or unfeasible are sorted out and no longer considered in the further process steps.

Initiative Focus
Initiatives Focus

The Initiatives Portfolio helps in identifying the initiatives fittest for reaching the specified goals. Thus, all initiatives which are not within the “green range” can be systematically filtered out. In this way, the most promising initiatives for the company can be represented.

Finally, in order to be able to assess to what extent the selected initiatives collectively contribute to meeting the specified goals, it is necessary to carry out a forecast for the case of their implementation – in the present example via the financial development. This forecast can also be automatically calculated and presented using the Initiatives Focus. If a specified goal should not be reached, the process can be iterated by looking for more suitable or alternative initiatives. In this phase, conclusions might be reached that one or the other goal is unrealistic or that certain specified goals must be corrected.

Initiative Focus
Financial Development when implementing selected initiatives