Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, is a well-known business quote that is (possibly incorrectly) attributed to a famous management consultant, Peter Drucker. I believe the point is that a business can have all the clever strategies in the world but if the company’s culture is not right then they are doomed to failure – sounds about right to me.
In Visionblue (now Aryza), a somewhat related statement might be, “Our culture is to eat process for breakfast every day”. This captures our core belief that repeatable, measurable processes are key to delivering a consistent product. I thought it might be interesting to have a blogging mini-series about some of the processes we have designed and use every day. Your feedback will either confirm that this is an interesting topic or that I am a process nerd, who needs to get out more…
The first process I will discuss is very much in its infancy but is starting to deliver early results.
When our MD decided that a key strategic goal for 2017 was to launch our Insolvency Case Management System in at least 1 new territory, our initial reaction might have been to pack our trunks and head to Australia for 12 months. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately if I think about it, we have learnt some hard lessons over the years and chief among them is not to commit to any new venture without having some empirical evidence that it might be successful. So, we created a project team to design and work through a process that we could use not just for our first territory outside the UK, Ireland and the Caymans but for all subsequent territories too.
Step 1 was to identify the territories to consider as potential destinations.
We discovered that we all felt that looking at English speaking, Commonwealth countries with similar case types to the UK was likely to be the correct path. However, when we pressed each other, we determined that we did not have any real evidence that this would be the correct route. With help from a consultancy firm, Tenego Partnering, that specialise in helping software companies to develop sales channels in overseas markets, we drew up a list of criteria that we could use to measure candidate countries against each other. The list included obvious items such as the volume of cases but also some less obvious measures such as using the World Bank’s Ease of doing business index. We weighted each item and came up with a score that allowed us to determine the best candidates. Strangely enough the two countries at the top of our scoreboard, Canada and Australia, were the original leading candidates but critically we now had evidence to support our beliefs.
Step 2 was to then identify a route to market in these 2 territories.
To do this we looked back at what made us successful in the UK’s corporate and personal insolvency sectors. The key in both was identifying a trusted, on-the-ground partner with whom we could validate our functionality, diaries and documents. So, how to find such a firm in new territories? First stop was Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government’s agency for the development and growth of Irish companies in world markets. Their agents in both markets have now introduced us to several key players and we will be participating in a Trade Mission to Toronto and Ottawa at the end of this month, where we have setup several meetings with potential partners. Our existing customers with affiliates in both countries have also facilitated several introductions, which is a good sign that they rate our work!
Now it’s on to hopefully agreeing contracts and reward structures with best-fit partners and moving towards launches in Q4. However just to prove that the world can be a random place, amid the above and totally out of the blue, we were approached by an enthusiastic practitioner in New Zealand and will be launching there this Summer (Northern Hemisphere) / Winter (Southern Hemisphere)! Best laid plans and all that…
Rob Doherty, COO