Change: Your Future Depends on it

Most companies embrace change when they first enter the market, because change presents opportunities for start-up companies to outmaneuver larger organizations that are less adaptable and more reliant on the status quo.  Anyone who has been part of a quickly growing start-up organization knows the feeling of stealing away market share simply because it’s more in tune with the buyer and more effective at marketing and delivering its solution.  Those companies are drivers of change, not victims of it.    The impact this dynamic is highlighted in the book Creative Destruction by Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan when discussing S&P 500 companies: “If history is a guide, no more than a third of today’s major corporations will survive in an economically important way over the next twenty years.  Those that do not survive will die a Hindu death of transformation, as they are acquired or merged with part of a larger, stronger organization, rather than a Judeo-Christian death, but it will be death nonetheless.  And the demise of these companies will come from a lack of competitive adaptiveness. To be blunt, most of these companies will die or be bought out and absorbed because they are too slow to keep pace with change … Read More

Eliminate Waste: How Staffing Firms Can Deliver More Efficiently

Do you know who your most profitable clients are, and do you respond to their needs accordingly? Are you paying for work that has little to no chance of providing revenue? How firms manage and deliver against job orders significantly impacts it’s competitiveness and bottom line. Studies from Lean Six Sigma consultancies estimate services firms who do not actively manage against waste  are wasting up to 50% of their costs. With the latest downturn, the percentage of waste  may go down temporarily as companies focus on productivity. However, as the economy recovers, waste will rear its ugly head if its root causes are not addressed. So what are the things that staffing companies need to look out for to ensure they are maximizing the speed and efficiency within their delivery organization? Effective Account Management The biggest factor to successful delivery for a client is effective account management that influences the clients buying cycle.  There are many sales people that do this naturally, however formalizing account management within your organization can help ensure your entire team is managing their accounts effectively. The impact on waste by effective account management can be significant as measured by submittal to hire ratios. It is … Read More

Drivers for Sales Success

Identifying key sales drivers and being able assess the health of those drivers is critical in building and successfully managing a sales force.  There are many staffing executives who believe that most sales issues begin and end with the quality of their sales force.  While the quality of sales personnel is an important factor it is not the only one. By not appreciating the other drivers, managers are vulnerable to making to poor hiring decisions, causing unnecessary turnover and consistent underperformance. The book Building a Winning Sales Force defines these drivers within five different categories.    This blog will discuss those categories and why they all play an important role in the execution of your sales strategy. Definers: A successful sales organization has clearly defined sales roles Definers determine how your sales organization should be structured in terms of size, territories, and specific roles within the sales organization.  Definers are determined by the value proposition you are bringing to the marketplace and buyers you are targeting.  If you do not have your value proposition or buyers clearly defined then you have no sales strategy and therefore no way of knowing what drivers you may need. Shapers: Hiring and developing the right people Now … Read More

The Strategy Focused Organization (Part 3): Mobilize Change Through Executive Leadership

Today’s CEO is wrestling with unique market challenges.    These challenges have forced many leaders and employees to question current business models and are looking at change not as a threat but as a necessity.  This openness to change provides an opportunity to inspire their team to a better destination.  However, many changes are complex and can reach to the heart of the company culture. Therefore, strong executive leadership from the CEO is required to overcome these obstacles and fuel the company’s transformation. The CEO must first define that destination, and understand the characteristics the company must have in order to reach it.  Those are the responsibilities unique to the CEO that cannot be replaced by consultants or even the most gifted employees. Strategic planning provides the framework to ensure the destination is defined and the path clearly mapped out.  Strategic planning accomplishes this by providing essential focus that is needed regardless of the size or complexity of an organization.  This focus allows companies to compete based on their strengths, and increases agility, empowering them to outmaneuver less focused competitors. The CEO must also reestablish the cultural foundation of the organization.  Through establishing a vision, mission, and values that the CEO … Read More

The Strategy Focused Organization (Part 2)

Principle Three: Make Strategy Everyone’s Everyday Job Does this sound familiar? A company crafts a strategy. They develop a thorough presentation to communicate the strategy and motivate the team. They call a team meeting and present the strategy. Employees are excited about the new direction seeing a better future ahead. Then the excitement fades, old habits reemerge, and six months later the only thing that has changed is the marketing collateral extolling the virtues of capabilities never realized. Sales sell the same way, recruiting remains reactive, and management wonders where all the inspiration went. In order for your employee to adapt to the company strategy you must focus on three key areas. First, communication is not a onetime event. You must develop an ongoing communication plan that communicates the strategy in a variety of different ways over time. Second, performance goals must be aligned with the strategy, and reviewed regularly on an individual and a team basis. Third, your team’s compensation must be aligned with the strategy in order to drive the right behavior. Addressing those three areas takes a lot of time and planning, but will increase long-term buy in substantially. Principle Four: Make Strategy a Continual Process This … Read More

The Strategy Focused Organization (Part 1)

In 1991 Kaplan and Norton wrote the highly influential book called “The Strategy Focused Organization”. One of the first things they address is the key principles a company must hold in order to create a break through strategy that drives profitable growth. There are five principles overall, today I will write about the first two. Principle one: Translate the Strategy to Operational Terms Successful businesses understand that your operations define your strategy. In order to execute your strategy a company must understand how you must change your operations in order to support it. Many companies make the mistake thinking strategy stops at defining your market position. A company wants to add an offering so they change their collateral and website, tell their sales people to sell it and poof, they are done. Who are the targeted buyers? Can the sales force sell this type of offering? How do you deliver the offering? What are the key performance indicators? These are some of the operational questions that provide important insight on the feasibility of the strategy and what capabilities are required in order to successfully execute. Principle Two: Align the Organization How does a company effectively leverage its strengths? Identifying and … Read More

What role does Strategy have in Staffing?

Staffing at its roots is an entrepreneurial industry. Some of the most successful staffing companies can point to strong leadership, aggressive execution, and ambitious production personnel as keys to their success. It is an industry defined at many levels by its shear will to succeed, and through the nineties that seemed to be enough. Over the last decade, we have seen massive changes in the competitive forces that impact the industry. These changes have allowed buyers to become increasingly sophisticated on how they engage and manage their relationships with staffing vendors. Buyers are leveraging technology to enable programs that closely manage both processes and pricing, driving the staffing firm’s operational costs up while at the same time squeezing gross margin profitability. To preserve bottom line profits staffing firms responded with a focus on increasing the “productivity” of the recruiting and sales organizations to achieve activity metrics that were simply not possible even five years ago. Operational improvements are a continued necessity to survive in the staffing business, and can briefly give a company a competitive advantage. However, is it enough to outperform the competition long term? The short answer is no. A longer answer can be found by reading an … Read More

In the Driver’s Seat – Staffing Industry Review

Most staffing managers will admit that even though business continues to grow, that growth is not a cause for unbridled optimism. The staffing industry faces headwinds that are driven from multiple forces beyond its direct control. Clients continue to ask for more while paying less; new regulations and stronger enforcement of existing regulations increase the cost of doing business; and the changing face of technology challenges how we must leverage the talent pool, which is the very essence of our service. Complicating all of this is an economic recovery that is tenuous at best. All these factors mandate that staffing companies develop strong managers who can rise above the inertia of the status quo and develop and implement high-impact operational improvements to ensure long-term sustainability.

Understanding the Competitive Forces Impacting IT Staffing Published in SI Review

In speaking with staffing companies across the country one thing is clear. Job order numbers are increasing and placements are starting to follow. This is welcome news; however, many executives see a rapidly evolving industry fueling concerns about the long term prospects for growth independent of the state of the economy. This article will discuss three of Michael Porter’s five competitive forces that are having the biggest impact on the future of our industry; Bargaining Power of Buyers, and the Threat of Substitutes and Rivalry among competitors. Understanding these forces will provide insight on how your company should respond strategically to a rapidly changing marketplace. The increasing bargaining power of buyers has been a challenge for staffing firms ever since the beginning of the millennium. The pressure on IT to produce greater ROI to justify its existence has led many buyers to transform their staff augmentation model away from differentiation based on relationships and customer service and towards a focus on program compliance and performance. Many firms blame the advent of the VMS for this transformation, when in reality VMS is only a symptom of the natural evolution between buyer and vendor as an industry matures. It is only natural … Read More