One of my most popular posts.
Would you voluntarily turn your Engineering meeting over to the VP of Business Development? Think about it: Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, meet Sales and Profitability Goals. The Engineering function is seeking project delivery on time, within budget and with high quality (and 0% defects and elimination of wasteful processes) once the work comes in house. The Sales function has their eye on anywhere from 10-25% growth in gross revenue over last year, as they look towards the upcoming fiscal year and increasing overall net profit. This year is, well, this year.
What type of questions – as a review of the State of Engineering for your company – might the VP of Business Development have for the Engineering Team if s/he were running the next Engineering meeting?
What if the VP of Business Development walked in to the meeting, thanked you for your invitation, and said: “Let’s get the cards on the table. I’ve got some questions and I need your input.
1. What type of projects are you working on? What types do you wish you were working on?
2. What is the priority of these projects based on forecasting?
3. What type of industrial segments are involved in these projects? Are these the segments we do our best work for?
4. What type of project segments are involved: rapid turnaround, long term projects, medium duration? Are we balanced?
5. How long do you think it should take the Sales Team to win jobs?
6. What is the timeline for Engineering’s completion of these projects, once they are won?
7. What other projects can be anticipated arising from these initial projects?
8. How are these additional or add-on projects being identified by Engineering?
9. What is the rate of new project or add-on project acquisition by Engineering once the Sales Team wins a project?
10. What are the gaps in skill set among Engineering that prevent the Engineering Team from being more successful identifying Opportunities based on the hard-won work by the Sales Team?
11. How much of project completion time can be billed back to the customer?
12. How much of project completion time is eaten by the company?
13. What is the nature of non-billable (wasted?) time and how much is it costing the company per year?
14. How much Engineering time is spent on achieving KPI’s during the course of each project?
15. What is the average amount of time Engineering spends on achieving KPIs, including Lean and Six Sigma / Quality activities?
16. How do these activities directly impact overall project outcome in terms of time to completion?
17. How do these activities impact profitability?
18. How well does the Sales Team factor in Engineering and Quality costs into the project proposals?
19. What are the gaps in the Sales Team’s skill set in terms of understanding the value of Quality/Six Sigma/Lean processes in the overall project outcome, and therefore the project proposal?
20. How can these gaps between the Sales and Engineering processes be bridged for the benefit of Business Development?
Could you answer these questions?
Do you go into each Engineering meeting prepared to answer questions like these? Do these types of questions enter into your project planning, as an Engineer? Perhaps they should. Because Engineering shouldn’t be doing Engineering in a tactical, by-project vacuum. And Business Development usually takes a strategic perspective, rather than a tactical one – although sometimes it just looks like a lot of churning and burning and wild goose chases and dead ends.
What if your VP of Business Development is also an Engineer, or perhaps Director of Operations?
How does this change your receptivity to their running your next Engineering meeting? Do you think being an Engineer or in Ops is going to change the nature of the profitability-oriented questions they are going to ask you? They’ve crossed over and now incorporate right and
left brain, yin-yang considerations into their thinking. They take a high level, multi-factorial overview of things. They see the problem from around the table,not from one side or the other.
Does your company have KPI’s?
Does your Engineering Department have KPI’s? How are these aligned with your Corporation’s KPI’s? Does your Business Development function have KPI’s? How are these aligned with Engineering KPI’s?
With everyone chasing their silo-ed interpretation of KPI’s – and probably bonus money- how is this affecting decision making, interdepartmental collaboration, innovation, employee and customer retention and overall profitability?
A lot to think about. For your next Engineering meeting. Bring it to the table. And invite your VP of Business Development. Like me, they may have a lot more than 20 questions to ask you.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013-2016. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.