Performance Improvement by Ascend

21 March 2018

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What do we mean by Performance Improvement?

A Performance Improvement is a focused change initiative, aimed at enhancing productivity and effectiveness. These initiatives are important keys to drive evolutionary change, as many organizations today strive to gain competitive advantage by improving their existing operations. Typical initiative objectives are margin enhancements, efficiency improvement, increased asset utilization or cost reductions.

At Ascend we believe Performance Improvement is a way to optimize an organization’s existing assets and way of working to #gettheedge. Overall, it’s all about improving a capability to get a bit of an advantage ahead of competitors.

What kind of Performance Improvement assignments do we do?

Developing and implementing price models to protect margin in an increasingly commoditized industry

Our client is active in the property management industry, which is facing increasing competition and decreasing margins. Our client is positioned as a value provider and has a loyal customer base. However, as the industry was becoming increasingly commoditized, the sales people signaled that price started to be at the center of negotiations and that the overall margin was declining. In order to avoid entering a price war, we assisted our client in developing a price model that would assist the sales team in communicating, presenting and selling the value provided, rather than negotiations being focused on the number of hours delivered/service. The price model is currently being implemented and the sales people are providing positive feedback as the tools and structure provided clearly help them protect margins. 

Strengthening the role of the Business Relationship Manager is a great investment in your IT/Business relationship

A classical way to refer to IT and the rest of the organization is IT and Business. This definition creates boundaries and a “we-and-them” mentality. Today, more or less all activities designed to develop your business include one or more interactions with your IT environment.  An important role in bridging the gap between IT and Business is the role of the Business Relationship Manager, also referred to as a BRM.  The main purpose of a BRM is to support business growth and to solve on-going problems by creatively finding new solutions and ways of proactively introducing new technologies. We assisted a client in the transportation industry with developing their BRM team by setting their target, identifying the gaps to reach the target and a plan with initiatives to close the gaps. The main goal for the BRM team is to be a partner and enabler of the business digitalization journey. Ascend was providing structure and coaching in the process of implementing BRM and building IT as a proactive business partner.

As a result of the project, all business areas have a clear and detailed roadmap for the coming 3 years, which sets the direction and enables priorities. The BRM team is currently executing their long-term plan and building their capabilities.

What are the major success factors in Performance Improvement assignments?

At Ascend we apply a pragmatic and agile approach for Performance Improvement assignments. The purpose is to ensure a clear focus on the task at hand while taking into consideration potential challenges that arise during the change and transition phase. In general, there are three key success factors for Performance Improvement initiatives:

  1. Set a clear and limited scope, to ensure that the scope does not grow or change over time since it will derail any plan and budget of the assignment.
  2. Mobilize a strong and empowered core team, to avoid the need of involving multiple stakeholders in a relatively limited change initiative. Set up a strong core team with mandate to deliver change within a given scope. This would simplify decision making and speed up the delivery of the change initiative.
  3. Aim for a success story, since a successful project provides energy and belief in the organization that other projects can leverage on.