In our last blog post, “When Business Intelligence Fails”, our CEO, James Bowman, spoke about business intelligence tools and the realization that without knowing what direction or course you set your business on, they are of limited purpose. At SBS Group, we believe we have solved this paradox with a new solution called E3. One of the best aspects of E3 is its integration of your business strategy, its execution, and performance into a completely web-based tool. Unique to E3 is its ability to combine strategy, reporting, collaboration, and risk management in a single platform. From a C-level perspective, it tells the continuing story of what we set out to do and how far we’ve gotten. Importantly though, it identifies where the roadblocks are and the intersection of initiatives are cross.
How? The best way is to show that is by example.
Let’s say you have an objective of improving your days sales outstanding, or DSO. To measure your accomplishments, you want to track DSO on a monthly basis both in an aggregate and at a business unit level. In E3, this would involve our first two elements – objectives and measures. We would set up your objective and the DSO calculation as your measure.
Furthermore, because E3 is integrated into your financial system, we set up a link to extract the data to calculate DSO automatically on a monthly basis. This integration is a key element of the power of E3 as it incorporates reporting into the system so that your leadership team can easily monitor the progress of this objective. Just as important is that it eliminates any manual effort to produce this report.
Now the critical element is how we accomplish this improvement in DSO. The answer introduces our next elements – initiatives and tactics. Since DSO isn’t likely to improve on its own, there are likely going to be a series of initiatives that you’ll need to undertake to improve it – perhaps implement a better collections system, update credit policies, or set up an electronics payment program. In E3, initiatives are set up and linked to one or more objectives and we can identify who owns the initiative as well as who may collaborate.
For each initiative, there will likely be a series of tactics – some of which may run in parallel and others which may be sequenced. These tactics or the “project plan” can be managed with dates, resource assignments, etc. So if implementing a collections system requires new software, training, updating, policies, etc., all of these can be set up as tactics assigned to individuals across departments with an “owner” or “project manager” who can monitor and report on the progress.
Since E3 manages all of our objectives, initiatives, and tactics we can also see how individual resources are tasked and what their loads are. This helps us assess where we have potential roadblocks in execution as well as where multiple initiatives may be dependent on one another, perhaps requiring realignment.
In this example, we’ve gone all the way from key financial objective, identifying key measures of performance, detailing the initiatives to support it and the individual tactics your team will execute to deliver on the objective. We’ve integrated to the financial system to extract the critical data to report automatically to provide a contemporary status for our leadership team to see.
With collaboration cited by Harvard Business Review as one of the key obstacles to making strategy work, E3 provides a solution that helps build the modern bridges needed to keep your team moving.
Next time we’ll take a deeper look at how reporting and risks are managed through E3.