In an ever-changing landscape, technology and research available to most companies mean that competitive advantages are now little more than temporary.
Business development concerns itself with ensuring that businesses are always informed, creating long-term value for an organisation in terms of customers, markets and relationships.
Challenge Advisory work with clients such as private companies, business leaders and equity funds in order to help accelerate, organise and manage business development, and to help align business strategies with implementation. Challenge’s business development team approaches business development in a unique way, drawing from over 50 years from experience to satisfy client needs. Challenge’s approach to business development is thorough and effective, and consists of three steps: redefinition and acceleration, management and strategy implementation.
In order to cultivate long-term sustainable business development, it is important to fully understand the client’s business. Challenge Advisory analyses how business development initiatives evolve over time, observing the different stages in maturity of business development units. Challenge Advisory’s experienced functional team can be aware of the common mistakes made in business development such as uncertainty, poor communication or limited understanding of the process or the management behind it, and can advise the client in avoiding these pitfalls. Challenge’s business development team also work to define the relevant differences in the client’s business and identify key opportunities to cultivate successful development. By analysing the business, Challenge can then liaise with the client to ensure that any development initiative carried out will be of maximum effect.
We advise our clients, ensuring that business development is augmented by clear definition of organisational context, so that the changes can be carried out simply without employees becoming confused by tasks. Without a clear idea of the tasks that must be completed, many innovative and profitable business development initiatives will not reach their full potential or may fail completely. Challenge helps the client to define the roles of business development (which change according to the business), teaching them the organising logic of business development and helping to identify the required competencies and skills needed to carry out the development effectively. Challenge will also assist clients in creating a performance metric for the business, as a way of defining the efficacy of the development.
Once business development plans have been defined and implemented, it is important that the plans are cohesive with the business as a whole. Challenge aims to advise its clients in combining the strategy of business development with the resources available, translating ideals into tangible acts within the client’s business. Challenge also helps its clients to understand the business developers themselves, ensuring the developer carries out their specific tasks to the best of their ability. We also aim to educate the client in terms of communication etiquette, relations and proper interaction with the business developer.
Pre/Post Investment - Challenge Advisory performs due diligence and detailed financial analysis of the client’s business. Challenge Advisory’s clients benefit from business model analysis, product development, and expansion strategy.
Organisational Analysis - Challenge Advisory provides impartial guidance on the client’s business, drawing from a number of models and analyses to advise them on their strengths and weaknesses and identify areas of improvement.
Business Process Efficiency - Challenge Advisory assist our clients in improving their efficiency by implementing new tools and practices that will improve operations and glean value, ensure that business management is more effective.
Management Capacity Development - Challenge Advisory works closely with the client’s management team to provide on-the-job training that improves management skills across the board, ensuring business development initiatives are implemented as smoothly as possible.
Market Research - Challenge Advisory helps the client to understand customer needs and extract maximum value from business development initiatives. We equip our clients with the skills for effective decision-making.
Glocalisation - We help our clients to understand cultural variations and socio-economic trends in other countries, facilitating the expansion to new countries in order to take advantage of an increasingly global market.
Redefining Business Development
Business development is defined as “the organisational process that ensures an ongoing and persistent improvement of the existing business and contributes to identify and develop new business opportunities.” This definition describes the nature of development of businesses and embraces different ways of working with business development. It gives a starting point for business developers to comprehend their field of work.
As with every new discipline in companies, business development needs time to mature – it needs to develop its own best practices and define the framework through which its mission and purpose can be executed successfully. Since the publishing of the first handbook, we have witnessed a rapid development in the area of business development and a sharper definition of the role of business development in many organisations. By now, many business developers have found their feet within the organisations; they know what they are doing and why. The challenge going forward is to become successful in what they do.
Managing Business Development
While still touching virgin ground, a recurrent problem for many business developers is to define and delimitate their roles and responsibilities. We have heard many business developers complain about the fact that they are drowning in non-strategic fire fighting or have become problem solvers for the CEO – in effect operating as an advanced corporate secretariat. This happens because many businesses fail to properly define an organisational context for the business development function. Even the most talented, experienced and self-motivated employees have a need for well-defined tasks, roles and responsibilities as well as a suitable organising logic and governance structure to be able to deliver what is expected.
In essence, what is happening in many companies investing in business development is that they have not asked themselves: “if business development is the answer, what is the question?” Or alternatively: “is there a need for a business development function in our company?” And if yes; “what type of tasks would we like to perform?”
When business developers are organised within a non-existing logic with no clear mandate or license to operate and with little guiding purpose from top management, both small and large scale business development units fail. They do not fail to deliver on promise, because no promise has been made. They do not fail to deliver impact in the organisation, because the organisation may not be aware of their existence. And they do not fail to engage in co-ordinating the strategy planning process, because top management never saw it as one of the real values of investing in business development.
Integrating Business Development
To become an integrated discipline, business development needs to resolve its immaturity issues. However, the current diversity of practices is not just a result of a lack of executive sponsorship to the activities or the shortage of proper role descriptions and performance measures. It is as much a result of the way many business developers themselves choose to integrate, engage and execute.
If business developers are to execute their tasks in alignment with top managers’ strategic priorities, they need to find a way to orchestrate the strategy management process so that it ensures alignment and consistency between strategy, budgets, projects and organisational priorities. Top management will make the most of their business developers’ analytical, engaging and facilitation skills by allowing them to take full responsibility for orchestrating the strategy management process. This will ensure close alignment of corporate priorities and provide mandate and space for the business development unit to translate, execute and anchor the strategy in the organisation.
We have found that many business development units are in fact investigating new opportunities and executing projects. What is new to many, and what is essential for units to become truly “integrated”, is to work to bridge the gap between strategy and implementation – to perform the orchestration of strategy management.
Head of Business Development