To what extent does business process alignment factor into your firm’s operating strategy? When you create topics for syndicated research studies are you considering revenue potential or are you fixated on just the subject matter? Are you looking at the financial viability of the project or are you zeroed in on what can be produced in some sort of timely fashion? Do you produce reports with no consideration for scheduling? Do you consider your capacity to support what you produce?
These questions address some important considerations that are often overlooked. Business process alignment has to happen up front or problems are going to spring up everywhere.
One issue that I have seen arise again and again is the prioritization of subject matter over that of market viability. A successful product requires a broad enough base of customers with adequate resources to fund report purchases. A pool of innovative start-ups and small companies nibbling at the heels of entrenched companies makes for interesting website copy but that doesn’t mean there is a market for a report.
Or consider the emerging technology that is garnering attention but isn’t going to achieve any significant market volume. Look at the amount of time analysts spend creating reports that won’t be financially covered because the analyst couldn’t determine until the end of the project that the market won’t be realizing revenue for three to four years out.
Another issue I see is in pricing strategy. Large companies can absorb higher price points. Smaller companies without dumb VC dollars burning a hole in their pockets aren’t so willing to purchase big ticket items. They may want or truly have a need for reports and data but lack the resources to buy without significant price considerations. However, pricing for the low end of the market means that the bigger accounts aren’t being mined for maximum returns.
And what of the post production marketing launch and sales process? Do your analysts simply hand over the reports and move on the what’s next on the schedule or are they actively involved with messaging, content marketing and sales targeting? Are they engaged with the firm’s marketing and sales groups? Are they briefing business development teams on market developments?
I would be remiss in neglecting the notion of adherence to publication schedule. How well do you manage your production process? Do reports come out according to schedule or are projects constantly late due to poor time management of the analysts, lack of prioritization of producer resources by managers or a penchant for dropping existing projects whenever some other opportunity presents itself? And in being late, is there any consideration for the impact on your production, sales or marketing functions?
Reports cannot be researched, written and produced in a vacuum. I always refer to this simple check list when launching a project.
- What is the reason for writing this report?
- Who is the target audience for the report and why?
- Which of these companies has a realistic chance of funding a report purchase?
- How long will it take and what processes are going to have to run in parallel in order to maximize revenue generation?
- Are the people responsible for research, production, sales and marketing all going to be brought in to the process at the outset so the practice is operating at its highest possible efficiency?
- Will there be communication between the relevant processes?
Business process alignment seems like common sense but that simply isn’t always the case. Analysts require a great deal of editorial freedom to do their jobs properly and they cannot be issuing reports that are little more than PR sops to clients. Their output quality cannot be compromised simply to satisfy a rigid report schedule. But production, marketing and revenue generation cannot exist independently of one another. Interdisciplinary friction will always exist on some level, but alignment must be SOP and leadership has to drive it.
Just how well do you align your processes, people and objectives to generate the greatest return on intellectual capital, time and money?