Cost Leadership


Business success built on cost leadership requires the business to be able to provide its product or service at a cost below what its competitors can achieve. And it must be a sustainable cost advantage. Through the skills and resources a business must be able to accomplish one or more activities in its value chain activities—procuring materials, processing them into products, marketing the products, and distributing the products or support activities—in a more cost-effective manner than that of its competitors or it must be able to reconfigure its value chain so as to achieve a cost advantage.

Strategists examining their business’ value chain for low-cost leadership advantages evaluate the sustainability of those advantages by benchmarking their business against key competitors and by considering the impact of any cost advantage on the forces in their business’ competitive environment. Low-cost activities that are sustainable and that provide one or more of these advantages relative to key industry forces should become the basis for the business’ competitive strategy.

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.

 

The Modern Organization


Things are moving superfast in the world of business today; in fact, they’re moving “at the speed of business.” Technology, globalization, deregulation, changing political systems, the new workforce, and a shift to service and knowledge work are putting companies under tremendous pressure to respond faster and to be ever more cost-effective and competitive. What does this mean for how companies are managed?  Perhaps the best way to answer that is to look at a few snapshots of how superfast businesses are being managed today. For some, being superfast means using the Internet for “Managing @ the Speed of Thought.”

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.

Realigning the Organization


Organization or reorganization schemes have been proposed ad nauseam as solutions to many business problems. As a general rule, organizational changes, especially those that simply reshuffle the same names into different boxes on the organization chart, don’t improve anything. This does not mean suggesting some new organization approach that is better suited for these turbulent times. However, many organizations are too top-heavy, over-structured, and over-satisfied to be responsive to market needs and too costly to be competitive. The structure and staffing of any organization must be rigorously challenged to ensure it is really geared to accomplish the fundamental objectives of the business in as cost-effective a manner as possible. An honest evaluation of the answers to the following critical questions will provide a good function for action.

a)        Is the organization structured to serve markets or simply to manage functions and sell products? Have priority markets been identified? Does someone have primary responsibility for ensuring that the product/service package is tailored to each target market? Do mechanisms exist to ensure cross-markets? Is there any kind of a market focus in the selling organization?

b)        Are there enough discrete profit centers? Do enough managers feel the burden of full profit responsibility? Is the business unit larger than its most successful smaller competitors? Are there any big cost centers that are not assigned or allocated to someone who has a profit and loss responsibility?

c)        Are there corporate group or division staff redundancies? Do the same titles exist at different levels (e.g., corporate controller, group controller, division controller, plant controller)? If so, does it make sense? Can staff position or groups show how they actively contribute to profit results? If so, do line managers agree that these functions are worth the cost?

d)        Are there too many layers? Are there more than five layers between the business unit manager and first level workers? Are there managers with assignments limited to managing one, two, three or four people? Why? Can any of these activities be combined under one manager? Why not?

e)        Is the ratio of supporters to actual results producers satisfactory? How many people actually make a direct contribution to results (e.g., first-line sales personnel, direct hourly workers, sales order engineering and order entry workers, handlers of incoming materials, and storing and shipping personnel)? How many managers, staff, and support personnel are cheering them on? If there is more than one support person for every two producers, what do they do? How do they contribute to profits?

The questions are not new, but the answers are more important now than ever. Traditional or experience-based answers are probably wrong because conditions have changed so dramatically. Moreover, it is doubtful whether existing management can or will ever come up with the right answers, because they have vested interests and the changes needed are simply too tough for them to swallow. These organization structure questions are not as serious for many small to medium-size companies since they are not as likely to be troubled with highly structured, functionally focused organizations lacking a dedicated market orientation. However, even managers in these companies must constantly fight the natural tendency to become more structured, bureaucratic, and lethargic.

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

When Project Financing can be Beneficial?


Project Financing has long been used to finance large natural resource projects involving several parties. A large project financing can, by facilitating a large-scale capital project, bring significant public benefits.

Given the complex decisions that have to be made in planning the financing of a major project, it is essential that the project sponsor(s) develop a thorough understanding of the proposed project—its risks, estimated investment requirements, and projected returns. Most importantly, the project sponsor(s) need to determine at the outset whether project financing is the most cost-effective method of financing the project.

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

Transaction-based Marketing Vs. Relationship Marketing


As marketing has entered the 21st Century, a significant change is taking place in the way companies interact with customers. The traditional view of marketing as a simple exchange process—a concept that might be termed transaction-based marketing—is being replaced by a different, longer-term approach.

Traditional marketing strategies focused on attracting consumers. The goal was to identify prospects, convert them to customers, and complete sales transactions. But today’s marketers realize that, although it remains important, attracting new customers is truly an intermediate step in the marketing process. Marketing efforts must focus on establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with existing customers. These efforts must expand to include suppliers and employees, as well.

The concept, called relationship marketing, refers to the development, growth, and maintenance of long-term, cost-effective exchange relationships with individual customers, suppliers, employees, and other partners for mutual benefits. It broaches the scope of external marketing relationships to include suppliers, customers, and referral sources. In relationship marketing, the term customer takes on a new meaning. Employees serve customers within an organization as well as outside it; individual employees and their departments are customers of and suppliers to one another. They must apply the same high standards of customer satisfaction to inter-departmental relationships as they do to external customer relationships. Relationship marketing recognizes the critical importance of internal marketing to the success of external marketing plans. Programs that improve customer service inside a company also raise productivity and staff morale, resulting in better customer relationships outside the firm.

Relationship marketing gives a company new opportunities to gain a competitive edge by moving customers up a loyalty hierarchy from new customers to regular purchasers, then to loyal supporters of the company and its goods and services, and finally to advocates who not only buy the  company’s products but recommend them to others. by converting indifferent customers into loyal ones, companies generate repeat sales. The cost of maintaining existing customers is far below the cost of finding new ones, and these loyal customers are profitable ones.

Effective relationship marketing relies heavily on information technologies such as computer databases that record customers’ tastes, price preferences, and lifestyles alongwith the increase of electronic communications. This technology helps companies become one-to-one marketers that gather customer-specific information and provide individually customized goods and services. The firms target their marketing programs to appropriate groups, rather than relying on mass-marketing campaigns. Companies who study their customers’ preferences and react accordingly gain distinct competitive advantages.

Firms in service industry, from retailers to hotels to airlines, are among the leaders in relationship marketing. Their staff members have many opportunities to meet customers personally and build loyalty and repeat business. Rewards for frequent buyers of a firm’s goods or services, such as hotel programs that reward frequent visitors with free room stays and other travel documents, are another form of relationship marketing.

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

Cost-effective Promtions


Promotions form an integral part of any marketing strategy and, if properly structured, cost very little to implement. Some expense is usually involved, since it’s hard to implement a sales promotion without advertising it. One drawback to many sales promotions is that managing them takes a fair amount of time, and in businesses with very few employees, that time just isn’t available.

 Before spending money to advertise a sales operation, try to visualize how the mechanics will work and that benefits can be expected. It is all too easy to begin a sales promotion without giving any thought to who will manage it. As with every business activity, someone must be in charge. Someone must have the responsibility for putting all the pieces together and making sure that the promotion gets implemented as planned. And someone must be accountable for the problems and miscalculations that always come up.

 In larger companies, sales managers can be assigned the task of managing promotions; however, the smaller the company, the greater the probability that the owner must take the responsibility for:

  • Being on the premises to greet customers, if that’s part of the promotion
  • Coordinating and following up to make sure deliveries are made on time, if that’s part of the program
  • Personally handling any barter arrangements or questions that arise from customers

 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