I’m a member of a management committee. We have all the usual roles: chairperson, secretary, treasurer, assets, operations, etc. We meet monthly. Every meeting has a published agenda, we sign off the minutes of last month’s meetings. We have five strategic goals and each month we cycle through them so one of those goals is the primary topic on the agenda. All other agenda topics need to be aligned to one of the strategic goals, otherwise it won’t be addressed.
Each goal is underpinned by management, measures and actions. Every action is allocated to individuals. Everyone needs to report back on their responsible actions each month. Our management team reports up to a regional division which reports in to the state division and so into national. Nothing out of the ordinary in all of that. Would it surprise you to know that I am talking about my son’s local Cub Scout group? It’s better managed than some of the businesses we come across.
Scouting has really changed since my day. Enthusiasm and dedication was boundless but strategy and goal setting in the parents’ committee? I don’t think so. Forecourt car washing, bob-a-job, bowie knives – all gone. More strategy and less danger. Probably a good thing.
Scouting relies on the currency known as the volunteer. This currency can be traded locally, nationally and even internationally but cannot pay for the groceries. The volunteer makes it possible to feed up and down the management chain “handraulically,” in other words little or no technology to collate and coordinate, emailed presentations and spreadsheets at best.
The volunteer currency doesn’t exist in the corporate world, you pay for what you get pretty much every time. So most businesses will struggle to roll out corporate strategy effectively without technology. The frustration for the typical mid-tier business is that they are nearly as complex as tier-1 companies but without anywhere near the same budget. Although mid-tier executives may be aware of the delights that technology can bring to a strategic business, they may not believe their dream is affordable. But it is. For any tier-1-style business solution beyond reach there is an equivalent mid-tier option with just as much opportunity for a far more acceptable investment.
Heard about SAP? Have a look at Microsoft Dynamics and Infor SunSystems. What about Cognos for planning, budgeting and reporting? Consider Infor ION BI and Board. And Tibco for business process management? XMPro is a winner.
David Parmenter, author of Winning CFOs, broadcasts a compelling thought. When allocating your technology budget as a CFO, don’t make the mistake of spending all of your money on the transaction management piece. Split your dollars more evenly across transaction and planning. You will get a much better return on your investment.
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