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Quality Management Tools and Techniques

Quality Management Tools and Techniques: Quality Function Deployment

  • Objectives:

This assignment is primarily aligned with S1 and AR1 of the learning outcomes of the course:

S1 Demonstrate the ability to utilize quality tools learnt in place of work, with examples of practical implementation in public, service and industrial applications).

AR1 Understand the scope of implementation and limitation of each tool and technique.

  • Select a service or product from following:
  • Service: Food Home Delivery
  • Product: Breakfast Cereal
  • Develop a House of Quality (HoQ) for it
  • Provide a similar level of detail as in in Figure below (about 6-10 customer attributes and 6-10 engineering/technical characteristics)
  • Provide some supporting text or annotations to explain the HoQ. For example, you will need to explain what the system is and who the customers are.

Further explanation on what to include in the project.

  1. Explain what is QFD, (Quality Function Deployment)?

    Quality function deployment (QFD) is a specialized method for making customer needs/wants important components of the design and production of the product or service. QFD is designed to help planners focus on characteristics of a new or existing product or service from the viewpoints of market segments, company, or technology-development needs. The technique yields charts and matrices. QFD helps transform customer needs (the voice of the customer into engineering characteristics (and appropriate test methods) for a product or service, prioritizing each product or service characteristic while simultaneously setting development targets for product or servic

    2.  Explain the WHATs in a QFD matrix.

    The following are the WHATS in a QFD matrix:

    Gathering Customer Needs Input: The premise of QFD is that before any product or service is designed, the producer should have a  good understanding of his potential customers’ needs in order to improve the likelihood that the product or service will be a market  success. That the producer should be aware of customer needs seems logical, but it sounds far easier than it is. Before the textbook rework is started, the QFD team must work diligently to deter- mine what potential customers would like to see in terms of attributes and features of the product and perhaps what they don’t like about our current product.

    Refining the Customer Needs Input: The data must be sorted into a prioritized set of the most important customer needs. At this point we will call on some QFD Tools, the first of which is the Affinity Diagram. Refining a large collection of data into something that represents the essence of the VOC is done through the analysis techniques of the affinity diagram, and QFD team discussion.

    Using the Affinity Diagram: Affinity diagrams are used most appropriately when the following conditions exist:  When the issue in question is so complex and/or the known facts so disorganized that people can’t quite “get their arms around” the situation. When it is necessary to shake up the thought processes, get past ingrained paradigms, and get rid of mental bag- gage relating to past solutions that failed. When it is important to build a consensus for a pro- posed solution.

    Using the Tree Diagram: The next tool to be used is the Tree Diagram. Tree diagrams can be used for countless purposes. It will be  used here simply to refine the affinity diagram results to make the list the customer needs, or WHATs that will be placed in the HOQ.
    Although a tree diagram could go all the way down into the nuts and bolts of a new design, remember that the objective here is not to
    design the new product, but to list the items to be addressed by the design team once the entire HOQ is completed.

    Customer Importance: Also coming out of the analysis is the team’s best estimate of the relative importance of each listed customer need. Customer importance is usually based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest priority.

    3.    Explain the HOWs in a QFD matrix

    The Technical Requirements room of the HOQ states how the company  intends to respond to each of the Customer Needs. It is sometimes referred to as the voice of the company. We must state at the outset that the technical requirements are not the design specifications of the product or service. Rather, they are characteristics and features of a product that is perceived as meeting the customer needs. They are measurable in terms of satisfactory achievement. Some may be measured by weight, strength, speed, and so on. Others by a simple yes or no, for example a desired feature, appearance, test, or material is or is not incorporated. The other side of the coin is that the technical requirements must not be limiting, but must be flexible enough to allow the company to consider  every creative possibility in its attempts to satisfy the need. The technical requirements are generated by the QFD team through
    discussion and consultation with the Customer Needs and Planning matrices used as guidance. The team may use affinity or tree diagrams to develop, sort, and rank the requirements, similar to the Customer Needs development process. The difference here is that the input is from within the company rather than from external customers.

    4.    Explain the 1, or 3, or 9 interrelationship values in a QFD matrix

    Now that we have the QFD team’s technical requirements (HOWs) in the HOQ, the next step is to examine how they relate to the WHATs of the Customer Needs. The results will be shown in the Interrelationships matrix, which links the HOWs and the WHATs. At each intersection cell of the inter- relationship matrix the team must assess the degree of relationship between the WHAT and the corresponding HOW. This is usually done using scales of significance of 1 to 5 or 1 to 9, with the higher number indicating a stronger relationship. Sometimes these numbers are entered, but often symbols are used

 

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FINAL REPORT: BUSN-460 SENIOR PROJECT

Sensor technology

 

Team Andrews-Final Report BUSN – 460

 

Executive Summary

 

Sensors are sophisticated devices that are used to detect and respond to electrical or optical signals. (Engineersgarage.com). They are used to convert the measure of physical aspects into a signal that can be measured electrically. They are used in the healthcare industry, the military, cars, wearable technology, cell phones, and so on. The sensor industry is expected to grow to $162 billion in 2019. (TechRepublic, 2016).

Sensor technology is constantly evolving and is one of the fastest growing industries there is, as well as the most profitable. A common goal for sensors is for cutting edge technology to deliver improved functionality through the sensor. Whether this is optical sensors used by the military to detect threats, motion sensors used in a cars brakes to prevent an accident, or an image sensor used in a camera. Another common desire when it comes to sensors is the ability to make them smaller, lower costing, with better wireless connectivity. (Grand View Research).

Bosch Sensortec is one of the biggest sensor companies there is. They have been producing sensors for years and are now the leading provider of MEMS-based sensors in the consumer electronics market. They are also making sensors and products for wearable technology. Bosch also produces motion sensors. More than 4 million MEMS sensors per day are shipped from their facility in Germany. They produce sensors for everything from cars to cell phones. (Cision, 2015).

A few more major players operating in the industrial sensors market are Rockwell Automation (US), Honeywell (US), Amphenol Corporation (US), Texas Instruments (US), Panasonic (Japan), STMicroelectronics (Switzerland), First Sensor (Germany), and Siemens (Germany). Rockwell delivers a wide range of solutions and services for applications such as food & beverages, life sciences, oil & gas, mining, cement, metals, pulp & paper, and water & wastewater. The company offers start-to-end industrial services to its end users. The available solutions offer the company an advantage over its competitors for increased growth. The company adopts both organic and inorganic growth strategies. In the last 3 years, Rockwell Automation offered 2 products related to the industrial sensors segment. (Markets and Markets)

By the year 2023, the sensor market is on path to be a 241-billion-dollar industry. The different market segments within the sensor industry is divided by the type of sensor, the technology used, the industry they are used for, and geography. There has been a recent surge in Research & Development into sensors from some very large corporations such as STMicroelectronics, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and Sony. The interest from these companies will lead to sensors improvement in both quality and efficiency. (Allied Market Research).

Some obvious strengths of these companies are the very large amount of resources they have. The large corporations who make millions of sales per day have more money to invest into their products. They have the manpower to continue to research the latest and greatest technology for their sensors. This also includes the ability to use the most efficient technology to make their sensors with a quick turnaround time. They also have the means to advertise as much as they need to in order to drive up product awareness. One weakness is the fact that there are so many of these large corporations wanting to produce the latest and greatest sensor. Having so many competitors will possibly drive down the price, which would be beneficial to the consumer, but not to their profit margins.

One thing is for certain, sensors are here to stay. The sensor industry is one of the fastest growing markets and they are only going to get bigger and more profitable.  Consumers are using sensors in a wide variety of products from their cars and phones, to their wearable technology. There is also a huge trend in converting your home into a smart home which is made possible with the use of sensors. The possibilities are endless with sensors.

Communication is key to success. Creative input is encouraged from every team member on the project. It’s very important for a team to define and delegate goals and stick to them, knowing everyone’s part and responsibilities. Ineffective communication has proven to be a barrier that many teams face within a group. The inability to converse in a language that is not understood by both the sender and receiver seems to be the greatest barrier to effective communication.

Team Andrews has had its downfalls within the first weeks. With so many different things going on with each one of us, including the fact that Capsim is new to all, has caused some setbacks, but nothing that the team can’t handle. We are getting to know each other and even though we are in different time zones and have different schedules, we are coming together focusing on our assignments and simulations. We try to get on it by the beginning of the week, that way we know what we need to do individually and have plenty of time to achieve. We have been in contact mostly by text and email.

Like any business, for it to be successful, all departments have to work together.  The same concept goes for teamwork. By the same token, our team seems to work in concert.  We often contribute equally on given assignments.  Thus far, our assignments have never been later. Each week we each take turns on uploading the decisions, but we can’t seem to pass a certain point. As for how or what we can improve, I would suggest that as individuals we must each continue to watch videos and practice and hopefully, we’ll get better at Capsim. Otherwise, from that, nothing else needs improvement.

 

As the weeks go by, the team has a better grasp of the simulations, which we all agree that was the most confusing part of the Team Project. We are communicating more often now that we better understand what the goal is.

 

The company immediately decided to change its strategy after the mistakes made in 2019. The company performed production audits and realized that there was plant capacity which was unnecessarily left. This analysis led the company to create a new strategy in 2020. Before transitioning to a new strategy, the company was struggling with profits, inventory, contribution margins, and other ratios. In order to recover quickly and perform better, the company decided to sell its existing plant capacity. As the transition took place, the strategic move resulted in improvements in net profits, ROE, ROS, ROA and performed well in other categories. We are expecting the same result in 2021. We also initiated the production of a new product which we expect to perform well in the high-tech market. This will allow the company to designate a product for each low and high-tech companies, improving profits, and market shares. This strategy was able to help the company recover faster; the company knew that they immediately needed to select a permanent strategy in order to improve company’s performance consistently.

 

The company had to take a $119,748 worth emergency loan in order to facilitate company’s actions. After carefully going through all available numbers, the company realized that they made two wrong decisions. Those two wrong decisions are as follows:

  • Company’s pricing strategy: After going through the prices of the competitors, the company realized that the company has priced its products incorrectly. That is one of the major reasons behind company’s low contribution margin (products are less profitable).
  • Inventory Management: The company forecasted for more sales than occurred, leading to the product’s inventory to build. Excess inventory must be stored, where it remains in the warehouse, instead of being purchased by customers.

The emergency loan was caused by excess inventory in which we had adjusted selling off this inventory We must account for inventory carrying over when setting our production schedule. Our priority should be to try and sell off excess inventory of the product where possible. Regardless of the cause, we kept a close eye on closing cash positions. Projected closing cash positions is a great indicator of emergency loans, but they depend on how accurately we have forecasted. In most cases, forecasting is an extremely difficult task. So, having a small buffer of cash can help avoid future emergency loans.

The company also has cash from Current Debt Borrowing, which means it is a short-term debt. The company is making enough profits to pay off this debt in one payment. At the same time, using these debts have helped increase our net income in comparison to Chester, Erie, and Baldwin. Making Digby our most high-ranking sales position coming in with $224,564 of net income. Chester has sales of common stock of $2,000 but Digby has the upper hand with $3,600 while the rest of the teams are at $0. The long-term debt that has been issued is under Digby for about $6,163 and another $3,000 on Chester, which will retire in the next round, hoping not to borrow Emergency Loan money.

 

Overall the report so far is as follows.

For sales: The industry average for Sales was $122,640. 4 out of 6 teams earned stars. The top Sales performer was Digby: $224,564. The bottom Sales performer was Ferris: $18,312.

Team Andrews sales were $105,526

 

Profit: The industry average for Profit was $21,763. 5 out of 6 teams earned stars. The top Profit performer was Digby: $42,883. The bottom Profit performer was Ferris: ($51).

Team Andrews Profits were $23,268

 

Contribution Margin:  The industry average for Contribution Margin was 35.6%. 3 out of 6 teams earned stars. The top Contribution Margin performer was Digby: 43.0%. ​ The bottom Contribution Margin performer was Ferris: 17.4%. ​

Team Andrews Contributions were 40.78%

 

Stock Price: The industry average for Stock Price was $88.22. 5 out of 6 teams earned stars. The top Stock Price performer was Digby: $135.87​ The bottom Stock Price performer was Ferris: $27.78.  Team Andrews Stock Price was $63.97

 

Emergency Loans:  Team Andrews had Emergency Loans for:

Year 5: $118,328

Year 6: $50,328

Year 7: $31,181

With a gross total of $119,748 at the end of the simulation.

 

 

 

The team has been working hard in trying to change our strategy to have better outcomes and acquiring better numbers in upcoming rounds. The company is already seeing positive changes and progress.

 

What must be updated since you originally created that document? What have you learned?

There is not too much that team Andrews would change to achieve our deliverables of the project as well as our CAPSIM simulations. As stated in our team charter though, everyone has picked up additional tasks during that time and those that were occupied elsewhere have stepped up to do more than average work the following week.  During our weekly meetings there is a great deal of discussions that take place allowing some to answer questions about why we are making the decisions we are for the company and then it is a group effort to answers those questions. Our overall project is progressing a bit slower than the simulations as we continue to struggle to find solid statistics for the sensors we discovered.  We are all working to build that information for the end project.

 

We wanted to provide the sensor industry with premium products. Therefore, we wanted to create a brand focused on premium products by focusing to serve high tech customers. This means we would be creating 1 updated product at the end of each year. This was to meet high-tech customer demands. Also, our products must keep in pace with the market in order to capture the high-tech market segment. By playing around in the simulation we did not change our focus target segment, but we kept on playing with developing R&D, marketing, production as well as finances.

 

Porter’s Generic Strategy: Which strategy did your team choose initially, and how did it change as the course moved on?

We adapted Niche Differentiation strategy, which allowed us to particularly focus on High tech customers segment. This allowed us to gain a competitive edge by distinguishing our products to be most updates, fresh, high quality, high awareness, as well as high accessibility. We have developed our R&D such that we are able to come out with a new product at the end of each year, which helped keeping our design fresh and kept our customers excited in buying our products. We tried to focus more on reducing the size and improving performance so that we can perform well on the R&D of our products. We priced our products higher than average. We gradually kept increasing our prices when we came out with an updated product. We gradually changed the capacity with increasing demand during each of our competition rounds. We tried creating a brand with premium products and we are going to ace it.

 

Target Market: Which of the two market segments did your team choose initially, and what has happened since?

We did not try to focus more on being present on every segment. We tried to focus on High tech customer segment, which is very famous for electronic industry. Since we are focused on creating sensors, we focused and targeted high-tech customers. High tech customer segment demands products with high quality design and must be produced new and fresh every year and this is how we choose on selling to high tech customers. We priced our products higher than average, but our targeted segment was ready to pay us the price for each updated product we produced. To meet their expectations, we spent more on promotions and sales budgets and increased our chances on automation by lowering our production costs.

 

Project Plan: How did your team do hit the milestones? What had to be added or should have been added? Did any specific project management skills help in this area?

Our team is performing and coordinating well enough for us to get through the class simulations as well as the course project work. We designed our communication plan and worked on our project more wisely. These steps would help build project proposals, initial request analysis that will determine our business’ team meetings, which helped the team keep updated through group texting as well as WebEx meetings.

 

Project management is all about working in teams. Our team working skills are above and beyond everyone, which will help us win the competition rounds as well as ace the course.

 

Conflict Management Plan: Give examples of how this worked for your team.

The team continues to impress me with their dedication and problem-solving skills. Francis is an excellent organizer and communicator, Paul is always willing to take on additional tasks, and Marc is very positive and enthusiastic that he motivates the whole team.

  • Member misses a meeting – Take minutes. documented for their review. We did this for our team members in case they missed a meeting.
  • Member does not complete work on time – Other members takes on their task, while the member missing will take on additional tasks the following week.
  • Member has an unavoidable emergency that delays work- The remaining members team up to complete the task.
  •  How will you resolve minor disagreements? We set up a team meeting to discuss and resolve any conflicts.

 

Team Rules: Share the team rules and explain how they helped your team.

  • We decided to do the simulations in our team meetings, which helped us perform well and bring solutions for doubts we had on the simulations as well as competition rounds.
  • We focused more on weekly communication so that none of our team members is held back in any portion of the course, whether it be discussion threads, simulations, project milestones, or competition rounds.
  • Team leader monitors our individual performances and notifies each other with any issues or concerns, helping us win as a team. This is how we focus in succeeding as a team in class.
  • As stated in our team charter, others have picked up additional tasks during that time and those that were occupied elsewhere have stepped up to do more than average work the following week.

 

Ethics: How has your team adhered to ethical principles?

As stated in our team charter, our team is committed to upholding ethical business practices and operating with integrity when it comes to the work submitted for this course by the group. Responsibilities will be divided equally; we will support each other when necessary.  Communication will be effective, efficient and constructive, while being delivered in a positive manner. All work submitted will be original unless properly cited. Decisions will be made with equal input and in a voting manner, if an immediate decision needs to be made, the group leader will intersect the discussion to complete.

 

Andrews will use the SWOT Model to analyze the company strategies.

Cost leadership on traditional and low-end market segments.

As determined by the market structure, the two market segments taking up the most percentage of market shares are traditional and low-end. Thus, in the first and second year, Andrews’ focus is on the fast penetration of such segments through lowering down variable costs and increasing degree of automation. The cost-focusing strategy allows Andrews to capture second most market shares in the traditional and low-end markets, which in turn enables us to have more capital to invest in R&D in high-end, and performance segments in future years when the growth rate for these two segments advances.

Demand forecasting and swift adjustment to capacity and production

Capacity has come to Andrews notice that demand forecasting could help the company produce the accurate number of products to satisfy demands from different market segments, so managers can have the ability to capture growth opportunities with enough inventory. Demand forecasting is also key to ensure smooth cash flow as Andrews’ can unlock cash that would be otherwise tied up in excess stock resulting from overproduction. Another critical focus is on Andrews’ capability to adjust swiftly to customer demand. As the market share across different segments are not fixed, the total industry unit demands are changing from year to year. Hence, keeping a close watch on the market condition and having the ability to change swiftly, enable the company to adjust capacity and production levels promptly to better serve customer demand.

Management on ROE and ROA

Return on equity (ROE) and return on asset (ROA) are two major indicators to measure company’s profitability and efficiency in using assets. In order to improve both ROE and ROA, we focus on improving sales margins, offering dividends to shareholders, increasing leverage for the company. The benefits of offering dividends is to boost shareholders’ trust and confidence, which in turn increases share value and market capitalization, as well as to serve as a means to distribute the idle cash to maximize ROE and ROA.

We also have tight control on taking loans, especially to the issuance of emergency loans, which could have a negative impact on our cash flow. Our strategy is to take long-term loans in the first few rounds to ensure enough working capital for expanding capacity, automation and raising the sales budget to increase market recognition from potential consumers. Yet we carefully measure the leverage ratio to ensure our company is not over leveraged and thus becomes too risky to meet immediate financial obligations.

Product differentiation and diversification

The high-end and size market segments become growing more prominent in the market structure. Instead of concentrating heavily on price, the underlying factors contributing to the consumers’ buying criteria include product positioning and reliability. Hence, the practice of continuing one-size-for-all undifferentiated strategy and product development is unfit for us to capture the new demands from these nonprice-sensitive segments. Against this background, we adopt product differentiation strategy in a bid to create differentiated products to target at different market segments shaped by distinctive consumer requirements.

Additionally, we strive to diversify our products within the same market segment in order to maximize market share and capture consumers by brand diversification. The most noticeable advantage of having multiple brands within the same segment as it can increase brand exposure and appeal to different buying motives.

 

Porter’s Five Forces Model

 

Team Andrews customized version of Porter’s Five Forces model (MindTools, n.d.) with significant application for the purpose of internal competition analysis. However, the sensor industry is an oligopolistic area, industry monopoly, which means that there are no new entrants and external replacements that may threaten Andrew. On the other hand, every company has their own plan of R&D, which means each product has their own characteristic in different companies. This will indicate the bargaining power of the suppliers is low. Due to the characteristic of high-end production, the power of customers is higher than others. Additionally, the internal rivals of threat are high.

 

What strategic planning recommendations would you make and why?

 

For the strategic plan, the perfect recommendations are likely required to be made for deciding the specific annual objectives and policies. The companies follow several paths to formulate better strategies so that they can sustain economically longer. The organization is required to set correct objectives for interpreting organizational goals. The objective is the sequential map that is necessary to be correctly decided, as based on the objectives the strategies of work conduction are depending. Therefore, to lead the strategic process for any plan it is necessary to define the objective correctly.

These policies are also an important part of the organization’s strategic plan as the policies are the companies’ guidelines or it can be said rules and regulations that hold the organization to maintain their portfolio to work ethically. To complete the strategic plan, policies boost the organization to maintain a working framework and keep the correct track of work that helps the organization to obtain the positive outcome in terms of growth and development.

Strategy reviews and evaluations are an important process for measuring the correct formulation in the strategic plan. Suppose an organization is working on a defined strategic plan, through its formulation the organization is leading the day to day processes. It is necessary to make a review on the process as the strategy may require any alterations in its design so that a better structure can be implemented. Monitoring or reviewing the strategy may lead to obtaining any flaws that may cause threats to the organization in the future. Therefore, reviewing the strategy that is working on the organizational process is recommended.

 

The strategic plans of evaluations are necessary to ease future welcoming of critical moments in the organization. These evaluations are based on the following aspects:

  1. Achieved goals as per the organizational needs
  2. Fulfillment of the customer’s needs
  3. Updated the standard as per the market innovation
  4. Monitoring competitors perception value in the market
  5. Observing the growing capabilities and the decline rate

The above evaluations listed are necessary for the correct enabling of strategic plans so the process and work standards can be maintained successfully.

References

(2015, June 11). Bosch Sensortec: 10 Years of MEMS Sensors Innovation. Retrieved May 26, 2019, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bosch-sensortec-10-years-of-mems-sensors-innovation-506889771.html

 

EngineersGarage. (n.d.). Sensors: Different Types of Sensors. Retrieved May 26, 2019, from https://www.engineersgarage.com/articles/sensors   

 

Sensor Market Analysis, Market Size, Application Analysis, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies And Forecasts, 2014 To 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2019, from https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/sensor-market

 

Sensor Market by Type. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2019, from https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/sensor-market

 

2019 Market and Markets Research LTD, Retrieved on May 26, 2019 https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/industrial-sensor-market-108042398.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiAhKviBRCNARIsAAGZ7CfWqsY3HOYApC8BP-t5eg0OIX_uah73I9NbXTMf2Y6-b0YsWdjAN5IaAhHOEALw_wcB

 

(2016). Intro to Business: A Primer Companion text to Capsim Core Business Simulation edition 1. Retrieved from: http://ww3.capsim.com/PDF/CapsimCoreBusinessPrimer.pdf (Links to an external site.

 

MindTools. (n.d.) SWOT Analysis: Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats. Retrieved on June 21, 2019 from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm

 

MindTools. (n.d.) Porter’s Five Forces: Understanding Competitive Forces to Maximize Profitability. Retrieved on June 21, 2019 from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm

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Primus Financial Services Case Study

Brad Brooks, the director of communications for Primus, a Boston-based company with a nationwide financial sales distribution system, was busy working on an important speech for Sheila Burke, the company’s newly-appointed president. Burke’s appointment had come on the heels of her predecessor’s abrupt termination two months earlier. The entire organization was feeling uncertain. Would heads roll? What direction would Burke take?
So it was with a sense of foreboding that Brooks, answering the phone, heard the new president’s voice. “Brad, as you know we’re working on the company’s strategic direction and I’m deep into the annual budget. I’m frankly concerned about the millions we’re spending on communication. I’m also concerned that we don’t have any kind of social media presence. Your department is behind the times. Put together a high-level summary of the resource allocation, people, and money, and meet me on Wednesday to discuss. I’m thinking of having consultants come in and do a communication audit.”
Brooks stared out his office window, the Charles River shrouded in fog. Where to begin? It was difficult, he believed, to measure the ROI of communication. Moreover, there never seemed enough time – or the skill set – for his team to focus on measuring and assessing results. Everyone was scrambling to ‘put out fires,’ especially with the change in leadership. And just the thought of outsiders coming in to conduct an audit gave him an anxiety attack. That evening, Brad reviewed the company’s communication portfolio, the annual budget, and how members of the communication team were deployed.
Brooks also knew that the company’s annual sales force survey would be deployed the following week. His plan was to suggest that Burke wait for the survey results before taking any steps to revamp the communications function.
The company’s communication portfolio:
Public Website: Brooks had to admit the company’s public website was a clunker. The platform was outdated and relied heavily on IT support, which was costly. Content changes needed to be passed along to the IT team, which implemented ‘mods’ on a biweekly basis. Discussions were underway to transition the site to a self-publishing platform by Q1 2018 so that the Communication team could publish content with no IT involvement.
Perhaps more seriously, the site’s purpose was unclear. It contained educational content accumulated over several years, some of which was embarrassingly outdated, but there was no focus to the content and no calls to action. Traffic data
showed that customers often used the site to access their online account information, but other sections of the site had little usage. In fact, the number of total visits was steadily falling. At the same time, the site was not generating any sales.
Company Intranet: The prior year, the corporate intranet, PrimusNet, was transitioned to a self-publishing platform, eliminating the need for IT support. That was a good thing. However, maintaining the site was absorbing more and more of the staff’s time. The volume of content provided by other departments was staggering. Brooks had to admit that the site was difficult to navigate and that it was difficult to prioritize content in terms of its importance to the sales process. One person coordinated the daily publication of news, while two others managed content on the site.
One troubling sign was that only 25% of the sales force accessed PrimusNet on a regular basis. Another was the negative feedback given the site in the yearly sales force survey – the major complaints:
• “Information about the advanced markets (business owners, affluent) is almost impossible to find.” • “It’s too difficult to find the information I’m looking for.” • “Much of the information isn’t relevant – I’m inundated with useless information.”

Monthly Magazine: The company’s monthly publication for the sales force had not changed much in recent years. The editorial mix consisted of interviews with senior advisors (who were almost exclusively white males), sales ideas, product descriptions. Anecdotal feedback from opinion leaders in the sales force was that they liked the magazine, but there was no evidence that it increased sales or that the majority of readers really cared about the publication.
Newsletters: Over the years, the number of newsletters published by the group had proliferated. It seemed that every field management constituency “needed” a dedicated communication vehicle: Managing Partners, Sales Managers, Marketing Directors, Brokerage Managers, Operations Managers. Producing these newsletters tied up both staff and resources.
Public Relations: One member of the staff handled public relations, both focusing on industry media and attracting new advisors to the company. Public relations consisted of pitching stories to trade publications, with modest success.
Executive Communication: Brad and another member of the team developed Powerpoint presentations for use by the President at periodic sales office meetings. Sheila Burke had expressed frustration at not being able to get her message out to the entire sales force in a more timely way. Powerpoint presentations and the monthly column in Power Selling just did not, as she commented sarcastically, “cut the mustard.”
Advertising: Primus did not have wide name recognition among consumers, and executives were not interested in spending millions to raise the brand’s profile. National ad spend was directed at recruiting new sales reps in national industry publications. Consumer advertising dollars were allocated to local sales offices, which could decide how and where to spend the money. The team had just begun to investigate digital marketing opportunities.
Primus Sales Force Survey
Survey audience:
Sales Representatives – all levels of experience and tenure with the company. At the time this online survey was conducted, Primus had 2,355 sales representatives in 82 sales offices across the United States.
The response rate for Sales Representatives was 65%.
Sales Managers – people with sales management responsibilities – recruiting, training and supervising sales reps, overseeing sales activity, providing organizational leadership, etc. At the time the survey was conducted, Primus had 344 sales managers in 82 sales offices across the United States.
The response rate for Sales Managers was 91%.
Survey Questions:
Response categories (1-7 scale, with 1 being lowest and 7 being highest in terms of agreement, importance, or satisfaction)
Rate your level of agreement with the following statements on a scale of 1 to 7
1.The monthly sales magazine provides useful information in helping me do my job.
2. The intranet portal provides useful information in helping me do my job.
3. I receive the right amount of communication.
4. The company provides information in a way that allows me to quickly find what I need.
Rate the level of importance on a scale of 1 to 7
5. Importance of communication to sales success
Rate your level of satisfaction with the following on a scale of 1 to 7
6. Satisfaction with communication received.
7. I have a clear sense of company direction.

Survey Results
Response categories (1-7 scale, with 1 being lowest and 7 being highest in terms of agreement, importance, or satisfaction):
• Positive (6, 7) • On the fence (4, 5) • Negative (1-3)

NOTE: Percent change from prior year’s survey is shown in ( ) — two questions were not asked in the prior year survey

Level of Agreement Sales Representatives Sales Managers
The following communication vehicles “provides useful information to my job”:

Monthly sales magazine (NEW QUESTION FROM LAST YEAR – NO YoY %)
32% Positive
38% On the Fence
30% Negative
53% Positive
31% On the Fence
15% Negative
Intranet portal 34% (-15%) Positive
50% (+2%) On the Fence
16% (+13%) Negative
40% (-6%) Positive
50% (+3%) On the Fence
10% (+3%) Negative
I receive the right amount of communication

19% (+4%) Positive
68% (-8%) On the Fence
13% (+4%) Negative
18% (-1%) Positive
73% (+1%) On the Fence
9% (0%) Negative
The company provides information in a way
that allows me to quickly find what I need
10% (-5%) Positive
49% (-2%) On the Fence
41% (+7%) Negative
14% (0%) Positive
52% (-6%) On the Fence
34% (+6%) Negative
Level of importance
Importance of communication to sales success 27% (-3%) Positive
48% (-2%) On the Fence
25% (+5%) Negative
33% (+2%) Positive
52% (0%) On the Fence
15% (-2%) Negative
Level of satisfaction
Satisfaction with communication received 19% (-5%) Positive
52% (-2%) On the Fence
29% (+7%) Negative
21% (-5%) Positive
49% (-5%) On the Fence
30% (+10%) Negative
I have a clear sense of company direction (NEW QUESTION FROM LAST YEAR – NO YoY %)
10% Positive
30% On the Fence
60% Negative
15% Positive
50% On the Fence
35% Negative

Feedback Sales Force Survey Assignment This show how this assignment will be reviewed

Section Comments Key Points of Reference Part 1 (33%) Critique the quality of the survey questions Quality of the survey: • This survey is a prime example of what happens when we don’t relate specific questions to KPIs – how do the questions relate to communication effectiveness? • Several questions include terms that are vague or can be interpreted in multiple ways (e.g., the meaning of the word ‘right,’ satisfaction with what ‘communication,’ etc.). • All of these questions use a seven point scale – could the survey have included other types of questions such as rank order? • The responses to most of these questions are not actionable – they are indications of vague attitudes • How would Hutton critique the survey? “Good questions reveal what’s going on. Bad questions obscure it. Good questions point to solutions, bad questions do not. Good questions resonate with staff. Bad questions bemuse them.” (p. 32)
Part 2 (33%) Analyze the results
Key findings: 1. In general, when reviewing results, focus attention on the largest positive and negative scores. 2. Overall, satisfaction with communication has slipped since last year. 3. Managers tend to be more satisfied, Sales Reps less satisfied – what are the implications of this? Role of sales managers as conduits of information between HQ and sales reps – we would therefore hope to see much more positive responses from sales managers. 4. A large proportion of respondents seems to be ‘on the fence’ 5. Among the communication vehicles, the intranet scores the best, but the large negative scores for allowing “me to quickly find what I need” – a critical finding since we know that sales people have little patience. 6. The new CEO is launching a new strategy – but the sales force seems clueless about company direction – a serious issue! 7. How does material in Chapter 12 of Paine help us understand some of these results?
Part 3 (33%) What issues would you like to explore in more depth
Potential approaches: • The challenge is to identify a few critical areas to assess – where can we “move the needle” in a positive direction with respect to communication effectiveness in two ways: reduce the big negatives, accentuate the big positives • Sending out another, re-worded survey at this stage might not be productive – but we should consider a redesign of the survey with questions tied to KPIs – even though we will lose some benchmarking
• Deploy focus groups especially with sales reps to probe about what’s working and what’s not – we need to dig deeper with this audience • Conduct usability analysis of the intranet to enable quicker and more intuitive navigation and organization of content – we can implement changes with immediate impact • Explore: how the sales force currently receives information and how they would prefer to receive it, where are the gaps? • Big red flag is the strategic understanding results – we have a new leader and a new strategy! This has to be a top priority for further investigation!

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