Sales Forecasts


From a sales manager’s point of view, the importance of timely, accurate sales forecasts cannot be overstated. There is nothing quite as needlessly frustrating as being surprised at the month end sales results because the forecasts from the field were incorrect, untimely, or inadequate.

More than simply keeping sales managers up to date, accurate sales forecasting can have an important impact on other areas of the company as well. Sales forecasts give management the information that is necessary to implement a product plan that ensures that the right product is available for salespeople to sell.

It is true that a sales force automation system cannot compensate for poor forecasting skills of salespeople in the field. What a sales system can do, however, is to move the information from the field management instantly. Perhaps more important is the fact that an automated sales system can deliver the information in a format that allows the forecasts of several salespeople to be automatically rolled up into a consolidated regional report. Since the information is in a more usable format, it is more valuable to management. It is more likely to be useful in preventing end-of-the-month surprises.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Production Management


Production is the use of people and machines to convert materials into finished products and supply these products to customers. Production includes three key stages: product development, purchasing, and manufacturing.

The development of a new product involves six steps: idea generation, screening, business analysis, product development, test marketing, and commercialization. Roughly, one in 58 new product ideas becomes a commercial success.

When the product development department designs a new product, a make-buy decision determines which components will be bought from outside suppliers and which will be made by the firm itself.

The six steps in purchasing raw materials and semi-finished and finished parts are 1) recognizing what is needed, 2) developing specifications, 3) requesting bids and selecting a vendor, 4) following up with the vendor, 5) receiving the order, and 6) evaluating the vendor.

Mass production and automation have revolutionized manufacturing methods and have made higher quality, standardized products available at lower prices.

The three classifications of manufacturing operations are standard versus custom manufacture, continuous versus batch process, and analytic versus synthetic process.

Once final products are assembled, the transportation section must ship them to customers on time and in good condition. The managers here use one of the five modes of transportation: highway, rail, air, water, and pipeline. Developments such as piggyback service and containerization allow a business to use two or more transportation modes to move shipment over long distances.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Economies of Scale


You get economies of scale when the unit cost falls as the number of units made increases. There are three reasons for the lower unit costs:

  • Fixed costs are spread over a larger number of units;
  • You can use more efficient processes, perhaps including more automation;
  • More experience with the product raises efficiency.

Economies of scale encourage you to concentrate operations and make as many units as possible in the same facilities. Another benefit from larger operations comes from the ‘learning curve.’ The more often you repeat something, the easier it becomes.

Obviously, you can’t expand facilities for ever, and there is no point in having more capacity than likely demand. More realistically, if you expand beyond a certain size the organization gets too complex – making communications, support functions and management more difficult. Beyond this point you get dis-economies of scale. You can see these in many large organizations, such as governments, which aim for the efficiencies that come from centralization, but actually get bogged down in bureaucracy and red tape.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

What Employees Need to Learn


What employees need to learn, beyond their immediate assignments, depends on what the employer wants them to contribute. Leading companies want employees to consider themselves members of the organization, to recommend and implement ways of making the company more successful. Consequently, they tell them a great deal about corporate goals and plans, the operation of the job site, the jobs of peers and managers, the functions of adjacent work units, the technology in use, effective problem-solving methods, and actual costs.

A handful of companies encourage employees to learn the act of technological adaptation, an art whose importance is destined to grow. Potential new uses of flexible automation, robots, or end-user office automation are limited only by the ingenuity of the users. Continuous learning centers are a good example of how to stimulate adaptation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Sales Automation


Sales automation is a fact of life. It is a fait accompli. The companies who are making it, who are growing, are the ones who are taking full advantage of the computer. Those that are failing are still in the paper and pencil stage.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Premium for Speed


A factor that is driving the trend towards automating the sales department is the extent to which speed has become a strategic advantage in the selling process. Once, it was acceptable for salespeople to promise to get back to customers with answers to questions. Increasingly, those salespeople are finding that by the time they get back to their customers with the necessary information, the sales opportunity has evaporated. The ability to respond to customers quickly is crucial to success, and the tolerances are narrower than ever before.

Similarly, the ability to compress the sales order cycle is becoming an extremely significant factor in a competitive situation. Your customers, who are under the same competitive pressures as you, are placing more and more emphasis on increased cash flow and reduced inventories. Reducing your sales order cycle from four days to two can make an important and measurable difference, certainly enough of a difference to determine whether or not you get the order.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Shedding Light on Quality Awareness


An organization will not begin the transformation until it is aware that the quality of the product or service must be improved. Awareness comes about when an organization loses market share or realizes that quality and productivity go hand in hand. It also occurs if TQM is mandated by the customer or if management realizes that TQM is a better way to run business and compete in domestic and world markets.

Automation or other productivity enhancements might not help a corporation if it is unable to market its product or service because the quality is poor. The Japanese learned this fact from practical experience. They could sell their products only at ridiculously low prices, and even then it was difficult to secure repeat sales. Until recently, corporations have not recognized the importance of quality. However, a new attitude has emerged—quality first among the equals of cost and service—the customer wants value.

Quality and productivity are not mutually exclusive. Improvements in quality can lead directly to increased productivity and other benefits. The improved quality results in improvement in productivity, capacity, and profit. Many quality improvement projects are achieved with the same workforce, same overhead, and no investment in new equipment.

More and more corporations are recognizing the importance and necessity of quality improvement if they are to survive domestic and world-wide competition. Quality improvement is not limited to the conformance of the product or service to specifications; it also involves the inherent quality in the design of the system. The prevention of the product, service, and process problems is a more desirable objective than taking corrective action after the product is manufactured or a service rendered.

TQM does not occur overnight; there are no quick remedies. It takes a long time to build the appropriate emphasis and techniques into the culture. Over-emphasis on short term results and profits must be set aside so long-term planning and constancy of purpose will prevail.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Fuse Knowledge to Power


Architects are concerned with flows. When designing a building, their paramount considerations are how occupants will move in it and how light and air will circulate around it. Equally important for organizational architects is how information, know-how, decisions, and careers will flow in the structure being shaped.

When the work of the corporation was primarily the organizing of manual labor, markets were local and slow to change, and the knowledge base upon which competitive success depended was stable, a unitary hierarchy of manager atop manager made a lot of sense. The information needed to run the business was limited and could be easily channeled in one upward or downward flow. Workers did the work, and managers did the thinking.

But this is a reality that has disappeared from most industries. Markets are dimensioned globally, rules change faster than some competitors can master them, and brainpower counts for much more than brawn. Most organizations, though, remain keyed to the old realities. Few hierarchies have even kept up with the need to build in change by linking each of their limited number of levels with the time horizons of greatest importance to the company.

A more serious problem, though, is the lack of rethinking about how a business needs to organize its intellectual capital, its knowledge workers. It is ironic, and wasteful, that while “knowledge workers” (technical professionals and other holders of graduate or postgraduate degrees) are making up an increasing proportion of the work force in many industries, the organization structures in which they work remain more the products of Industrial Revolution than of the information age.

Knowledge, especially which can affect the company’s future competitiveness, used to be confined to the research and development lab or to the strategic planning department. Now, as information systems-driven service industries assume a larger share of many economies, knowledge about the capabilities that provide competitive advantage is much more widely dispersed than was ever necessary in traditional manufacturing companies. No single information channel can contain it all. And even traditional product makers are changing. Fewer manufacturing jobs are directly involved in making something; more are concerned with planning what to make, how to make it, and how to keep customers happy after the product has been purchased. The intellectual demands on front-line workers have increased tremendously. The narrowly skilled assembly jobs have been replaced by the more knowledge-intensive positions of the factory automation technician.

Requirements for more intellectual value added have escalated up many organization hierarchies. Networked data bases, expert systems, and almost never-ending flow of new personal computer software have significantly expanded the scope and the nature of the contribution possible from many mid-level employees. This is not an unmitigated blessing, though. It has also seriously polluted the management role in many companies, making many into high-level doers instead of managers, increasing the role’s fragmentation, and making it brittle rather than strong and load-bearing.

This situation will only worsen as economic pressures lead to increased management delayering. Companies with eight to ten tiers of management will find it necessary to organize around four or five. The number of subordinates per manager will have to sharply increase. Middle managers will find themselves with less and less time to master these new white-collar productivity enhancers and to make the intellectual contribution their businesses increasingly need.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Sales Call Reports


When the members of a sales staff are spread out over a large geographic area, sales call reports are a critical components of a sales manager’s efforts to keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on in the territory.

It is critical for both sales and management to have a finger on the pulse on the business. This means knowing where the business is and where it isn’t, and being able to analyze the situation by product, by geography, and by timing. This allows everyone to do a better job at sales planning.

There are, of course, a variety of means by which a sales call report can be delivered to a sales manager. Sales reports that are submitted by mail often do not arrive on a timely enough basis to allow them to be as useful as they should be. Every sales manager will, from time to time, discover in a sales call report a situation that requires, in the manager’s judgment, immediate attention.

The electronic mail component of a sales automation system is completely portable. Sales force automation allows a salesperson with a notebook computer to communicate with a similarly equipped sales manager anytime, anyplace. Better still Black Berry handsets with GPRS connection is the best solution.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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