Software as a Service (SaaS) has fundamentally influenced sales and marketing, as well as impacted buying behavior. “Trial periods” and “proof of concept” roll-outs were rare previously.
Amazon, Netflix & Apple have conditioned consumers to expect a good experience when buying software (not just using it). Business customers now want this same experience in the professional realm:
The buying experience is changing for the better, but the biggest challenge is often in understanding, and more importantly agreeing, on the problems within the organisation. Part 1 of a 3 part series, in this article we'll look at ways to identify this and how to turn this into action.
How do you diagnose the problem areas within an energy supplier organisation?
More stakeholders, more problems. Procurement in large organisations is inherently complex. Asking multiple stakeholders for an opinion on the business’ needs can often release the floodgates. CEB Gartner suggest that there are 7.8 stakeholders involved in the average procurement exercise, although enterprise operations are likely to include many more.
But what is the problem?
Whilst this may sound easy, many organisations struggle to focus on the root cause of their issues. Instead, companies point to the surface level pain points. The complexities of the retail energy industry can exacerbate this, due to sprawling operations that may span across multiple systems, departments, or even geographies.
What can you do to clearly define the problem?
Identifying potential competing needs within the business
Using techniques to define the problem is the first step. But how do you prioritise to make sure needs across these different sections of the business are met?
What do you want to be possible and what is actually possible within the software space?
You now know what you need to do and you’ve prioritised where you’re going to start. Before you do though, it’s good to understand what’s happening in the market and what is genuinely feasible to achieve with the software available and future road maps. What other factors do you need to consider before you go ahead?
Framing the problem and gaining buy-in
The business must not only understand the problems / needs, but the context within which they exist. This is important when gaining internal buy-in from your organisation.
Planning for the future and being prepared
The needs of the business will continually fluctuate due to the competitive landscape, market conditions and access to capital etc. This need for flexibility should be fixed in your mind when assessing your options:
Understanding the competition and where to gain leverage
Whilst the competitors actions shouldn't form the basis of a businesses strategy, it's important to assess and course correct accordingly:
The importance of timing.
Like many industries, the energy industry is subject to seasonality and is highly cyclical:
The big question. What is the cost of moving forward?
In a competitive landscape where margins are under pressure, protecting budgets is of paramount importance. A business must consider:
The cost of inaction. What will happen if you don’t move forwards?
With uncertainty and volatility in the market, it is tempting to baton down the hatches and attempt to weather the competitive storm. Some may hope cash reserves and existing systems will see the business through, until more favourable conditions appear. However, there are no signs of new competition slowing down and the race for ever more creative software propositions continues; a business must ask whether they can afford NOT to change.
The techniques mentioned here aim to focus thinking on how to best identify problems within your organisation and that may lead to software changes. They look at how a structured collaborative approach can help where many stakeholders exist. If the questions asked here are dealt with thoughtfully, a compelling business case should begin to appear and have a higher success of sign-off.
With the ‘WHAT’ now defined, a clear view of the problem, alignment with internal stakeholders, and a plan that moves the business forward - the next step is to address the ‘HOW’. In part 2 of 3 in this blog series we’ll explore the ‘buy vs. build’ question and how you can turn the plan into action.
If you're deliberating your next move with software, we're happy to help you break it down.