University of Chester - Honours Degree Programmes

Module CO6001 Ė Managing a Computer Based Environment

2010/11

Assignment 2 Ė The Management Team

Part B: The Business Ė done individually (30%)

     Write an assessment of the success of your business

It was a success; we ended the project in profit. Good Salesmanship, successful marketing mix activities and solid team work ensured this.

     Market and the competition

As defined by the American Marketing Association, "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."

ďThe aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.Ē Peter Drucker.

The classical four Pís:

o   Product

We generated three products in total, for three different markets. Each product was tuned for the specifics of each target market segment. We ended up selling most of the first model we designed, as it generated the greatest profit margin.

o   Price

Price was not a variable that we could control; we were entered into contracts to supply specific volumes at a specific price; although the price paid did vary between markets. See Appendix 1.

o   Promotion

This was a well-mixed variable for our team implementation: with marketing activity taking place each and every month, we even went as far as TV advertising. All of this activity generated a large number of inquiries which we were for some reason, unfathomable, unable to convert to sales. See Appendix 3.

o   Place

This activity was fixed, we made a premises decision early on in the simulation to move to a business park, and this suited our needs: production space and easy of logistical supply. This fixed our rent overhead for premises at £1667 which was a good thing for our financial planning.

     Operational and Human Resource Factors

Operationally there was not much to do each month, we had a good supply deal and the product designed for the market segment, so it was just a matter of balancing production time with the training that we always delivered to the staff. Looking back at the project we would have had a more balanced approach to training, rather than creating experts in production we would have balanced the skill set more evenly across the various business activities.

     Financial constraints

We had starting capital of £20,000 and a maximum overdraft of £39,000.

At points we were trading very near to this limit, see Appendix 2

     Finance

We did not tinker too much with this variable. Set up good terms with the supplier, 60 days, with some healthy volume discounts. We had one significant customer on 60 days so cash flow was very peaks and troughs. See Appendix 4

     Sales

This was probably the most changed set of variables. We maxed out or sales at 55 units and couldnít gain anymore despite changing market segment several times, this meant that in some months we made no profits, which in turn meant that it took us longer to return to positives in terms of the bank. See Appendix 4

     Marketing

We did our best to successfully market our products, we created PR segments, took out adverts in the local press and trade magazines as well as TV advertising, we also dedicated a lot of time to personal selling.

     HRM

We started off scared into our hiring decision: we took on two members of staff that were already highly skilled and then continued to training them. This represented a significant cost to the business, which we could have reduced by hiring lower skilled staff, thus lower paid, and then had a more comprehensively planned training package. All of the training we did in house and on the job. We chose this method because it was the most cost effective; the only cost being time, which we always had a surplus of.

     Operations

Our operations director made this set of tasking appear simple. We adjusted the product design three times for three different market segments. Our purchasing strategy was one of extended terms, and we made a high quality decision at the beginning of the exercise, so that time was always factored in.

Part C: The Team Ė done individually (30%)

     Discuss your contribution

I feel that I put, together with the rest of the team, a great deal of effort into the SimVenture simulation. We worked hard to produce our standard document for monthly reporting; allocating sufficient time each week to run the simulations, collate the results and have a discussion about the project.

My previous experience and expertise was in Sales & Marketing, so I was happy to take the roles of Finance Ė I learnt a lot, as did the other team members in their choice of role.

Application for roles was individual choice, although we did use Belbin and Briggs-Myers metrics to measure our team strengths: by Belbins metric I am a shaper, plant and by the Briggs-Myers metric I am a mastermind. So according to the stereotyping, I am: introspective, pragmatic, directive, and attentive. A capable but not eager leader.

Reviewing my performance against stereotype, I followed the curve quite neatly: producing the template document that we worked on and setting the agenda for the team meetings.

My day to day activity consisted of cash flow forecasting, profit and loss accounting and budgeting. These were new activities for me as I had never done them before, initially challenging, I soon got into the swing of things and found them to be useful instruments.

     Discuss the contribution made by other individuals

o   Who contributed most Liam!

A combination of his general enthusiasm and stereotyped role made his contributions stand out for me.

o   Who contributed least, I did.

My verbal contribution I off set against what it was that I wanted to achieve: the document template and the meeting agenda.

o   The reasons your attribute to the differences is maturity.

o   Steve and Keith balanced out the contribution.

All in all a well-balanced focused team effort, the minuets of the meetings, Appendix 5, show these reflected views and comments.

This team was more than the sum of its components, the synergies achieved in acting as a team enabled us to outperform in the simulation. Looking at the team composition as stereotypes we all performed very well to curve.

     To what extent was management of the business a team effort?

Very much so, we gelled well to produce a high standard of work and had fun doing it.

We all took the (Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2011) test with the results giving a good team balance:

o   Andy†††††††† INTJ†††† mastermind

o   Steve†††††††† ESTJ†††† supervisor

o   Liam††††††††† ENTJ††† field marshal

o   Keith†††††††† INFJ†††† counsellor

We made our business roles choices based on what we either wanted to do or had experience in: In I chose Finance, Steve chose Sales & Marketing, Liam chose Organisation and Keith had Operations.

Because we have known each other for three years, we missed the storming element of Truckmanís team development model and went straight to the performing element. (Chapman, 2009)

The team was run as a democracy with equal time given to each of the business areas, we were very stringent in ensuring that appropriate time be spent on each business area: we were very formularised in our approach, we had after some experimentation we hit on a session plan and documentation to support our work that we all agreed, and set about rigoursly enforcing this plan and document.


 

Bibliography

Chapman, A. (2009). Bruce Tuckman 1965 original 'Forming-storming-norming-performing' concept. Retrieved 05 13, 2011, from businessballs.com: http://www.businessballs.com/tuckmanformingstormingnormingperforming.htm

Myers & Briggs Foundation. (2011, 05 13). My MBTI Personality type. Retrieved 05 13, 2011, from The Myers & Briggs Foundation: http://www.myersbriggs.org/

nwlink.co.uk. (2011, 05 13). Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Retrieved 05 13, 2011, from nwlink.co.uk: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadob.html

 

Works Cited

Chapman, A. (2009). Bruce Tuckman 1965 original 'Forming-storming-norming-performing' concept. Retrieved 05 13, 2011, from businessballs.com: http://www.businessballs.com/tuckmanformingstormingnormingperforming.htm

Myers & Briggs Foundation. (2011, 05 13). My MBTI Personality type. Retrieved 05 13, 2011, from The Myers & Briggs Foundation: http://www.myersbriggs.org/

nwlink.co.uk. (2011, 05 13). Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Retrieved 05 13, 2011, from nwlink.co.uk: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadob.html

 

 


Appendix 1

Figure 1 Distributors price contracts for the Professional Services market segment


Appendix 2

Figure 2 Bank balance for the two years of trading


Appendix 3

Figure 3 Sales enquiries that we were unable to convert to sales


Appendix 4

Figure 4 Bank Balance and Sales


Appendix 5

Session 17

Everyone: Weíve chose to target solo businesses. We are going to see what impact it has on the company and if it is negative, we will re-target our original target segment (engineering).

Liam: Overwork is an issue continually once again. This issue needs to be fixed within the next session. Agreed to by Steve and Keith.

Andy: We need to continually train, but balance the skills of each individual.

Liam: It seems more important to focus on our profit and loss currently than worrying about the hours issue.

Steve: Disagrees because we keep moving hours all over the place and believes we should try and have ourselves work to a set amount of hours.

Liam: We need to also look into the issue of why there are expenditures on miscellaneous when we donít know what they are.

Steve: Once weíve seen the outcome of the solo business target segment that we have tried to focus on selling to, we should focus on one target segment only.

Keith: We could target two segments at the same time.

Andy: Doesnít think that the simulation will allow this.

Liam: Based from our personal selling skills shown in sales channels, we are generating leads and visits yet are not selling to these leads. We should again work on sales training maybe. Steve, Keith and Andy agree to this.

Liam: We should look at people management training and how this affects the company.

Keith: Disagree to this because it doesnít seem to be an issue that we are experiencing currently.

Keith: We need to look at why we have become stressed which is related business performance and sales not supporting the business. Agreed to by Liam, Andy and Steve.

Keith: We need to find out what the issue is regarding enquiries and sales, as we have the same number of sales and we have more enquiries than previous months.

Session 18

Contributor

Comment

Sales & Marketing: Steve

We have tried to increase the number of units sold each month, attempting a wide variety of activities: none as yet have been successful. We are at the stage where we are considering cancelling the current contracts and re-negotiating them.

Operations:
Keith

We have taken on board the customer research that severely criticised the performance aspect of our product, and doubled the performance metric from 40% to 80%, this has significantly impacted on the costs per unit

Human Resources: Liam

During this period we have discussed lowering the staff overhead: by either making Molly redundant or reducing the salary paid to the business owner. The manipulation of the salary paid to the business owner had a detrimental effect.

Finance:
Andy

We are continually losing about £2000 per month despite every effort to increase sales or reduce costs.

We all agree

That the price is currently too low for the business to survive at the present rate of sales.

Human Resources: Liam

Feels that we should be heavily promoting our new product.

Sales & Marketing: Steve

Feels that we should attempt to save costs. The rest of the team agree.

We all agree

That a lack of sales and a subsequent increase in unit costs will drive the business into the ground.

 

Session 19

Contributor

Comment

Sales & Marketing: Steve

There have been a large number of changes in attempts to increase sales volumes Ė all to no avail.

Feels that we should not spend and money on Sales & Marketing for a period of time to cut costs.

If we do go down the hiring route, then we recruit a low cost staff member and train them.

Operations:
Keith

Look at cutting costs because we are on a fine line for breaking even.

We need to monitor the number of hours to ensure that we have capacity. If the current trend continues we will have to consider recruiting another member of staff.

We need to add pad-time to our capacity to ensure that tasks get completed.

Human Resources: Liam

Agrees with Steve that we should not be spending money on sales and marketing

Agrees with the general consensus of reducing overheads.

Evaluating the cost benefit of outsourcing production if we need another member of staff.

Finance:
Andy

Although we have been making a loss the changes we have implemented are all aimed at improving the companyís overall performance.

We will run into the same problems of an increase in overhead and a lack of sales volume.

 

Session 20

Contributor

Comment

Sales & Marketing: Steve

We have to understand why we have dropped to 48 units of sales from the contracted 55 units

Feels that we are not going to make any significant returns on sales and marketing activity

Operations:
Keith

Our attempts at reducing costs have actually increased costs, we need to identify where and why they are being incurred.

Human Resources: Liam

We wish to continue training Rajesh on a programmatic basis and other members of staff based on skill inefficiencies

Finance:
Andy

We also need to identify why we are not converting our leads into sales

Everyone

Agrees that we should maintain our current status quo

 

Session 21

Contributor

Comment

Sales & Marketing: Steve

We could look through training to convert the leads/enquires into sales.

Operations:
Keith

Possible review the location variable to capitalise on the sales opportunities

Human Resources: Liam

Have a more structured approach to training, not the deficiencies model we are currently implementing.

Finance:
Andy

Cash flow is a concern but, there is little we are able to do to influence the cash flow

Everyone

We would maintain the current status quo, under taking low cost marketing activities and train the work force to overcome skills inefficiencies.

We are pleased to have the smiley face icon back to green and happy