Monday, 31 December, 2007

Managing the Professional Service Firm

For last two days, I am reading this book by David Maister. Though I have not yet finished it, I found some of the points covered in this book, quite relevant to my work. Let me share them with you.
Almost every professional services firm, has three goals to perform: deliver outstanding client service, provide fulfilling careers and professional satisfaction to its own people and achieve financial success.
There are three types of client work: Brains, Grey Hair and Procedural. Brains type of work involves new solutions to new problems. Grey Hair type of work requires some prior experience while Procedural type of work requires efficient delivery of solution. The types of practices needed for these types of work could be termed as Expertise-based Practice, Experience-based Practice and Efficiency-based Practice respectively.
The Dupont formula for profitability of industrial companies is as follows:
Profits/Equity = Profit/Sales * Sales/Assets * Assets/Equity = Margin * Productivity * Leverage
The author has similarly derived the profitability formula for professional firms:
Profits/partner = Profits/Fees * Fees/Staff * Staff/Partners = Margin * Productivity * Leverage
The author has further provided the formula for productivity as given below:
Productivity = Fees/Staff = Fees/Hours * Hours/Staff = Value * Utilization
We can put all practice development activities in following five categories:
  1. Broadcasting - generating leads and inquiries
  2. Courting - selling and proposing
  3. Superpleasing - ensuring client delight with current matter
  4. Nurturing - marketing to existing clients
  5. Listening - gathering market intelligence
Following are the means of listening to clients
  • User groups
  • Reverse seminars
  • Attending client industry meetings
  • Market research
  • Senior partner visits
  • Engagement team debriefings
  • Systematic client feedback
The marketing tactics in descending order of effectiveness are as follows:
  1. The first team
    1. Seminar (small-scale)
    2. Speeches at client industry meetings
    3. Articles in client-oriented (trade) press
    4. Proprietary research
  2. The Second string
    1. Community/civic activities
    2. Networking with potential referral sources
    3. Newsletters
  3. Clutching at straws tactics
    1. Publicity
    2. Brochures
    3. Seminars (ballroom scale)
    4. Direct mail
    5. Cold calls
    6. Sponsorship of cultural/sports events
    7. Advertising
    8. Video brochures

Friday, 21 December, 2007

Quantifying Busing Agility

While talking about SOA, we routinely make a claim that agile business needs agile IT and SOA is required for having agile IT. But then sometimes the questions comes, how do you determine whether the business is agile or not? I have got one possible answer for this question from the book titled “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy”.

“While there can be many ways, one indicator of agility is a company’s percentage of revenue generated from new products. MIT research on 147 companies found that, from 1998 to 2002, on average, 24% of a company’s sales were from new products introduced in the prior three years. But this percentage varied greatly from company to company - even between those in the same industry. For example, in manufacturing the average was 24%. However, a third of companies achieved 50% of sales from new products. These more-agile companies also had a high percentage of their core business processes digitized.”

Friday, 14 December, 2007

I am now SAP Certified Associate Enterprise Architect!

Yesterday I appeared for SAP Certification test for Associate Enterprise Architect and could pass it! The test covered topics such as SAP NetWeaver stack, SAP EAF and Enterprise SOA. There were 80 multiple-choice questions for 3 hours. I could complete the test in half the time. Many questions were tricky and needed careful reading. I found some questions where recommendation was asked for a given scenario while rest of them were more details-oriented.

It's a good feeling to know that I am now SAP Certified Associate Enterprise Architect!

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