Would you voluntarily turn your Engineering meeting over to the VP of Business Development? I first asked this question in a blog post back in October 2009. It’s still as solid a question, now, as it was then. After all, everyone was still reeling from the aftermath of the economic debacle of 2008. Time has past, the dust is beginning to settle and tea leaves are starting to be read. The global economy has shifted, economies have risen and fallen, as have governments. Let’s explore this topic again, together.
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. In review…..” Would the following questions – as a review of the State of Engineering for your company – surprise you? How might these questions – and your answers – create a collaborative strategy to take your company to the next level?
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?
Engineering shouldn’t be doing Engineering in a tactical, by-project vacuum. 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.
There’s a lot to ponder here. What if you invited your VP of Business Development / Sales to your next engineering division meeting…. And came prepared to address these questions?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo to small and mid-sized businesses in the manufacturing and service sectors. She builds vibrant revenue-producing business strategies for technical startups.