Briefing: Decisions – Decisions
Its 3:00pm Tuesday afternoon and Janice, the new Senior Director of IT walks into your office. Sitting down in the chair next to your desk – you know by the look on her face she is there to ask you a question. She starts the conversation by telling you that the executive staff has been reviewing the presentations from various functional groups on how to improve corporate efficiency and improve revenue by automating the sales process. While the decision has been made to go with SalesForce.com, some additional decisions must be made to support the implementation across a field sales team consisting of a rather mixed group of young (average age 24 all with BA degrees) new hires to older veteran employees (many over 55 often with only a high school education). On average, most of the employees at Rock Solid are not technically savvy.
Besides supporting SalesForce.com, the solution for the sales team (inside sales, outside sales and applications) must also support the display of high resolution graphics and videos, parts and catalogue documentation in PDF format, and information presented using HTML5 on the web as well as email (MS Outlook/IMAP based). The solution must also have the ability to do Microsoft Office spreadsheets and standard sales documents such as quote letters.
She lets you know that she must make a quick presentation to the CFO, Don McCloud tomorrow morning over coffee. Don has attended all of the presentations yet is still skeptical of the need for a CRM system and does not really understand the hardware/software requirements. Don is not very technical – hardware specifications are a complete mystery to him. He is also confused about some of the hardware implementation details for the sales people. Some of the presentations were contradictory and discussions with various employees aren’t helping. Besides, most of his hardware knowledge comes from TV ads and a quick discussion the Best Buy Geek Squad so may be biased or downright inaccurate.
She also tells you that the request for a more detailed financial analysis will follow so do not spend too much time with cost and ROI analysis. That will come later.
She is very knowledgeable and competent, however was not onboard in time to attend the presentations. And, as she has only been at Rock Solid about a week, she has not been able to talk with all of the stakeholders (sales, marketing, operations, finance, accounting…). She has a lot on her agenda that must be accomplished and needs your help.
She ends the conversation by providing you with the questions she needs answered: “Should we go with Apple, Windows or Android based solutions? And, what form should the solution take – laptops, tablets or smartphones? Or maybe any combination of the three? What are the most important implementation/support issues we might face with each combination of choices?”
Knowing you have recently graduated and are fairly tech-savvy, looking at you very directly, she concludes with the all-important question: “Tell me, what do you think?”
Some thoughts that may help you write the Briefing:
This type of situation is common. Just like a Business Case Analysis, a briefing is not an opinion piece. A briefing is a very concise summary of relevant facts It is very easy to make decisions/choices based upon what you think you know or worse, what you think you want because of some personal preference, slick technology or coolness factors then, worse yet, bias your analysis. Remember this is not a report or an essay – she and the CFO need clear, fact-based answers. That said – like a Business Case Analysis – Always avoid personal pronouns and never talk down to your audience.
I would start by making some comparison tables then add discussion points. Using the Modified Leavitt Model you should “determine appropriate Technology for required work Tasks/Process”. You may also need to think about the “People” part as most of the employees are not tech savvy.
You might want to look at some of the models presented in the book and lectures for guidance. You might want to research instances where other companies faced similar problems. Be sure to include references (does not have to be overwhelming – only key points).
The Briefing will be three pages: cover page, briefing content, and end notes. There is an absolute limit of 1 page of written briefing content single spaced, block justified. Go over one page of written briefing content – I will deduct points. Reducing the margins below 1 inch or using less than 12 point Times New Roman font to cram more information into the briefing – I will deduct points.
The briefing is being written for Janice (not Don or me), however, you must assume that she may give Don a copy so be very careful what you write and how you write it.
You must be concise and to the point. The conversation between Janice and Don on this topic probably will not exceed 5 mins as there is other related topics she wants to cover.
Form of the Briefing:
- Your cover page should be in the same format as the Case Analysis. Make sure you have a very brief executive summary.
- Then, starting on a separate page, provide a brief analysis in one (1) page maximum. Remember: This is a fact sheet for her use – not a report or an essay.
- Answer her questions based solely upon the information in the Case Analysis documents and as developed for the C-Level presentations.
- Repeat the questions exactly as the headers (unlike a Case Analysis) to make the answer/analysis sections very clear.
- Use bullet points as appropriate (much better than dense sentences/paragraphs)
- Add commentary/talking points as you deem appropriate to any tables, charts or graphs you choose to use.
- Consider that a copy of the briefing document may be given to the CFO as well as other C-Level executives. Again – Be very careful what you say and how you say it. Use business voice.
- The third page will be an endnote page citing any numbers, data, quotes, graphics, charts or tables used.
- If you have a chart, table or graphic that succinctly answers the questions posed, you may include it as a separate page after your brief written analysis (and before the endnote page). Graphs, and tables can speak 1000 words and can be used to easily articulate important points.
Then (this would never be in a briefing document)….
- On a separate page ‘attached’ to the back of the briefing (after the endnotes) and for grading purposes only answer the following question: What is the first thing you will immediately say to her to answer the last question she asked: “Tell me, what do you think?” For this question and this question only (because I want to know what you would personally say in this situation) you may use a personal pronoun and write: ‘The first thing I would say to her is: (provide your answer)’. Use “Tell Me What You Think” as the title of this page. Again: Be very careful of opinions.