Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

By CEI Compliance

Professional Services Strategic Planning For Today

For Professional Services Firms the rules of strategy setting are different. Without knowing the differences instantly sets your firm into a dilemma and causes untold damage to turnover and growth as well as individual partner/director career development.

Lee Werrell CEI Compliance Limited

Strategic Planning For Today

By Lee Werrell FInstSMM Chartered MCSI CertPFS

Typically, many professional services firms are often so preoccupied with assisting their clients with regulatory issues, business demands and time pressure issues that they lose sight of their ultimate business objectives. With major landscape shifts on the horizon with the RDR, move of the FSA to the FCA as well as the backdraft of the banks financial crisis and governments austerity combating measures, is precisely where a facilitated business review for the preparation of a strategic plan is more than a virtual necessity; it is a critical necessity. Corporate Strategy may not be a recipe book for any professional services company and their success, but without clear direction, planning, awareness of external impacts as well as internal issues, partner/director career paths, fiscal and resource crises, as well as staff and HR challenges a business is much more likely to fail. The main problem with most professional services and their strategy setting is that if you took their strategy statements along with about 50 others, they will almost all be interchangeable and will, other than branding and stylizing provide a bland to target this type of client in this industry/sector and provide them with this level of service. Not that there is anything wrong with the intention and there is nothing wrong with the goals being written clearly. The problem will arise where they all have the same client list to target, all have the same service offering in that industry/sector and all aspire to provide an exemplary level of service. Often failing in what our American brethren would say is Strategy Setting Course 101 whereby the goal is to provide a set of actions consistently to make the firms service or support more valuable to clients than that of the competition; you can see that they have barely turned the front cover. The support you receive from CEI Compliance Consultancy is targeted at corporate development, corporate strategy planning, strategic management and strategy consulting and will involve the following. Planning: strategic thinking and strategic business planning identify where the new opportunities lie. Positioning: Strategy consulting gives your company the insight to be perfectly placed to exploit each opportunity to the full. Process: putting in place a strategic management process ensures that your company is constantly primed to use events to its best advantage. As the cat in Alice in Wonderland states; If you dont know where you are going, it doesnt matter which road you take. A sound plan should be simply that once a desirable market, level of engagement and market size is established and defined, the firms must then turn to the not so straightforward task of deciding specifically how it will compete. This would mean, to the more astute of you that the time has come to move away from the marketing tactics, intelligence, research or other evidential gathering mechanisms and move to a more creative Strategic Planning For today Page 1

By Lee Werrell FInstSMM Chartered MCSI CertPFS and innovative methodology. It is time to concentrate on the internal, operational, administrative and delivery systems so that clients can derive additional and thus pertinent and relevant benefits over and above the competitors offering. Below we will provide potential areas that may provide more value to clients but not to create a perfect answer for all the areas, but pick on two to five areas that they understand they are lacking dynamism in and brainstorm the ways to perfect these areas to provide a perceived extra value to their clients. Your strategic plan should not be confused with a business plan. The former is likely to be a short document whereas a business plan is usually a much more substantial and detailed document. A strategic plan can provide the foundation and frame work for a business plan, providing vision and identify the gaps and obstacles that the business plan needs to address. A strategic plan is different from an operational plan. The strategic plan should be visionary, conceptual and directional in contrast to an operational plan which is likely to be shorter term, tactical, perimeter focused, implementable and easily measurable. As an example, compare the strategic process of planning a holiday (where, when, duration, budget, who goes, how travel are all strategic issues) with the final operational preparations (tasks, deadlines, funding, weather, packing, transport and so on). A clear, carefully stepped corporate strategy invigorates your business, energizes your team and puts your long-term goals within you and your teams reach Basic Approach to Strategic Planning I challenge you to disagree, but there is a tendency in professional firms to augment their strategy development by inputting the desire to focus on new things. These range from new markets to new clients; new services and products and even opening new premises (the panacea of expansion at all costs). Most of these activities are designed to, but usually fail in, providing additional revenue, substantial additional profitability or increased market share due to some convoluted formula that dilutes existing markets and redistributes the share to the new venture. Most fail to realize that without specific expertise in those areas, a strong support to the new products or services plus the periphery requirements of resource, licenses, IT etc then for most it means redeployment, reallocation and reduced work on their core business. The key element that most firms overlook is that the attitude and focus as well as behavior of the partners/directors will also need to change significantly to make radical changes which are at best disruptive and uncomfortable for most people and at worst politically charged and disruptive to existing teams and career plans of senior management. All the sound and considered reasoning coupled with strategic diversity and suggested actions are usually merely pebbles thrown in a pond, and like the ripples made, soon forgotten.

Strategic Planning For Today

Strategic Planning For today

Page 2

Strategic Planning For Today


So what should we target?

By Lee Werrell FInstSMM Chartered MCSI CertPFS

This is a suggested list that can be adapted. It is not intended to be exhaustive and can be extended according to your needs. Table 1-1 How can we develop an innovative approach to attract the best hires so we are seen as employers of choice and providing higher caliber solutions over our competition? How can we develop distinct and innovative ways to manage our assignments/ contracts/projects so we are more thorough in delivery yet maintain accuracy? How can we best train our staff to understand client perspectives and maintain meaningful dialogue with our clients, effectively providing a counseling advice service? How can we lead with skilled and specialised people that are perceived as extremely valuable subject matter experts to the market and our peer group? Can we become more valuable to our clients in the marketplace by listening to what they say and what they dont say: understanding their business as well as they do? How can we ensure that our professional technical advisers and consultants become more valuable to our client by increasing their breadth and depth of knowledge? The Biggest Myth Sorry to report this, but the strategy in a professional services firm is not best set by the senior management in a top down exercise. That may well be the best way for industry and production divisions, but where each partner/director is in control of their subdivision or team and they may not necessarily buy into a strategic plan set by their peers and fellow professionals. The variance between subgroups and their specialties will be such that there will be a level of interest initially, then as soon as an element does not apply or is difficult to adapt, the whole plan is dropped and they all return to business as usual. Additionally different disciplines will also clash, such as a litigation department of a law firm will want different things to the family law or conveyancing division. You would find it extremely difficult to find any professional services firm that was considered by their clients to be vastly superior in all aspects of their service compared to other firms. Dictating strategy from the top down and expecting whole firms and their sub-practices or disciplines to all develop the same way, will be doomed to failure before the ink is dry. Additionally the move would be foolhardy as the different practice groups have already differentiated themselves to a degree, by working in their recognized fields in such a way that exploits or leverages on their different offering. To force them to all toe the line and operate as a single front with new and changed business practices, would quickly result in an exodus of the practice heads and their teams. Simply put, in these businesses, where a professional service is being offered, the best strategic plans are those formulated by the professionals that are carving out the practice and their careers Strategic Planning For today Page 3

By Lee Werrell FInstSMM Chartered MCSI CertPFS within that work. These should not be given free rein to come up with their strategic plan, but rather facilitated with probing and thought provoking questions to help them understand what their unique points may be. Table 2 Again this is not an exhaustive list but the stance of Devils Advocate helps test and challenge the robustness of the plans. Questions along the lines of; What special or unique capabilities do you have or plan to obtain that your closest competitors will be unable to match? What makes them so unique? What do you have to do to put these capabilities in place? What do you think the clients will like about your changes? What field testing or evidence do you base it on? Who is responsible for implementing each component/stage of your plans? Who was involved in this development? Who was consulted/not consulted? What three main criteria are needed for this to work? What are the closest competitors likely to be developing and how do you propose to counter this? If they come up with a really clever angle, how will you leverage that idea? How quickly? In what way do you see that you need assistance from across the firm? How will you contribute to other parts of the firm with the lessons learned? What are the staffing implications of your approach? How will you know the plan is working? What evidence will be produced and when? What could go wrong and how will you tell at an early stage? These questions need to be asked after the first pass of the teams strategy planning and then they should be sent away to prepare their responses for use at a second meeting. When all of these points have been challenged, answered and accepted for each team, the management is now in a position to offer selective investment/funding to help the best of the opportunities and to confirm a high level plan for the company. The whole process of strategy setting in this way provides a level of responsiveness for the organization that is rarely equaled by any other company in the same marketplace. Most companies are staffed by people that have come from large companies and will always revert to their comfort zone of installing a strategy on everyone. Returns are Many Fold Not only will have you have an edge over the competitors that are funding new offices, expensive Strategic Planning For today Page 4

Strategic Planning For Today

By Lee Werrell FInstSMM Chartered MCSI CertPFS recruitment campaigns and posturing in the market purporting themselves as experts in their new fields, but a second, more fundamental and better benefit is obtained, whilst at the same time bringing better commitment and buy in from the practice heads. Each practice head is always planning their career, building it to provide a better future for themselves and their clients. By utilizing this methodology, each practice head is more focused on their teams development, achievements for themselves, and healthy competition within the firm as each head tries to better his peers. There is no point in diversifying and spreading yourself too thinly as a company unless you have the resource and skills to capitalize on a niche area. By re-engineering what you already have to provide a better level of service, support or advice to clients will also lock them into your new caring, streamlined and efficient systems that they would never even think of leaving you. Companies we have been involved with in the last 10 years;

Strategic Planning For Today

CEI Compliance can help provide a full compliance support service, reducing required management time, ensuring all areas are up to date and working for your firms long term benefit. Call 0800 689 9 689 today or go online at www.ceicompliance.co.uk
This whitepaper was written

by Lee Werrell FInstSMM Chartered MCSI Cert PFS, founder of CEI Compliance Limited.

Avoid S166 Skilled Persons Reports download our free guide here

Strategic Planning For today

Page 5