Sunday, July 31, 2011

Business process mapping

Managers are professionals, like lawyers, doctors and teachers. The area of professional competence is management. Managers are committed to 'management' to produce results in line with the firm's goals. A firm has a mission, the raison d'etre of the firm. The mission statement outlines the firm's important commitment, for example it may be providing excellent processed food products or quality and affordable medicines .... Based on the mission, objectives are drawn, goals are set, strategies are plotted; policies, programs and procedures are laid down. In essence, a process is created. Managers are professional process creators and process managers.

Process refers to a sequence of events, interlinked procedures to produce an output. Managers are in essence process managers. Let us assume that there is a manager for each part of the process. If the manager understands he is a part of the larger process that is generating an output, then his work will be in harmony and in balance with the firm's needs.

The MR visits doctors, promotes products, creates demand, with the help of marketing inputs - strategies - training inputs - collaterals. This demand is served through the distribution system. Products come in to the distribution system, through the production system. The inputs for the production system come from the purchase dept. All in all, a process is on, with the MR being a part of the larger system called the firm, which is full of processes in action.


HABIT: you remove H you get ABIT; you remove A you get BIT; if B is gone, you get IT. Hence, it is difficult to get rid of HABITs!

Processes create habits, and these in turn create comfort zones. Hence, revisiting processes gets a tad difficult. One is comfortable doing things the way they are, since they appear to produce outputs in line with corporate goals.

Process revisits

Process revisits are crucial to seek improvements in the processes. Improved processes will certainly produce improved outcomes. The processes revisited can belong to any department. It may be material procurement processes, HR processes, production processes, audit processes, quality processes, marketing processes, training processes ....

Revisiting processes involve understanding how things are being done, and then looking for ways to improve the way they are done, with an eye to

a) reduce wastage
b) improve efficiency
c) increase effectiveness
d) get better output

Thus, if the MR is a value delivery process of a pharma firm, we observe, MRs deliver communication inputs, render messaging, build relationships, involve in two-way transactions, offer gifts, sponsorships, and help create the demand output.

Another way of looking at things is to create a support system to improve value delivery to customers. Such an approach is value delivery through a mailer system. Or through other platforms which will engage target audiences and create the demand output for the firm. After all, the MR process is for demand creation. Hence, any other process that will create or support current process for demand output, with less wastage (or leaks), increased efficiency and effectiveness will surely be attractive to a pharma firm.

Steven Covey has said:

If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting.”

This is quite logical, hence, revisiting processes makes sense. For instance, today, pharmacist focus is on in the marketing process. Pfizer and GSK are organizing education meets on products for pharmacists, to get goodwill, shelf space and OTC (over-the-counter) push sales.

The idea to look at business activities with a process attitude - this is what ISO 9001 is all about. Business process mapping is what is the need of the hour for the pharma Indian industry today. Businesses are essentially processes, producing defined outputs; repeatedly.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Donkey driver managers v/s professional managers

Top management and owners of companies appoint managers to ease their work, ensure that their vision and mission is implemented for the organization, and that the firm reaches the envisioned place. In simple language, 'manager appointees' are people who make things happen and ensure that the work is done (particularly through the non-managers) to achieve pre-stated objectives.

The popular managerial approach ('donkey driver' approach), is use of reward power and coercive power (see image above) to ensure accomplishment of tasks. Managers are supposed to be the drivers of reward power and coercive power in an organization.

Will a manager become successful for the organization through the 'donkey driver model' of managerial working?

The donkey driver model, utilizing reward power and coercive power, is successful up to a point. It has its limitations. A professional manager has three additional keys for success:

a) Demonstration and co-shouldering of responsibility
b) Give confidence and security
c) Use positive and negative reinforcements tactfully (and discreetly if required)

a) Modeling or demonstration of technical or other work skills is critical to win the subordinates' confidence and trust. Providing feed backs and co-shouldering of the responsibility is the best way of getting things done to achieve targets.

It is easy to say, "Look I have provided the resources, now achieve the targets!" "If you achieve the targets you get your incentive, if you do not achieve, well then, you can look for some other job more suited for you!"

This sort of carte blanche approach, is easiest for the manager, however, if the managerial system is co-shouldering, based on providing solutions, target achievement happens as a matter of rote, what happens however is something bigger: EVOLUTION OF THE ORGANIZATION.

Growing together, making organizations evolve, and making firms stronger in the marketplace is what is the essence of managerial success.

Let us assume a manager is successful in target achievement, merely by driving his subordinates to work harder and harder, however, the 'donkey driver model' has its limitations. Such a manager will finally face human resource problems, and a plateau will emerge ... from where evolution seems impossible.

The 'donkey driver' managerial model of working assumes, non-managers need to be driven and results automatically happen, it does not take in to cognisance the following facts:

a) that teams can be broken
b) non-managers can leave companies
c) results are system outputs
d) reinforces 'marketing and results myopia'

More often than not, organizational results are not a result merely of 'donkey driver model'. Reward and coercive power are vital in an organization, however, expertise power, legitimate power, connection power, and referral power of an organization are critical elements of organizational success, growth, survival, safety and evolution. These powers need to be enhanced in concert at all levels, thereby these factors would interplay and will provide the necessary organizational outputs.

b) Giving confidence and security, based on values and discipline, makes subordinates fearless in attitude, this provides stability, loyalty and higher involvement in work. Finally this attitude translates in to tangible results and employee stability to an organization.

Organizations that have a "wicket keeping attitude" (where most of the managerial work is about fixing the responsibility for lapses or dis-satisfactory results and/or 'fault finding'), keeping people in a state of fear of being "wicket kept", will surely see the organization becoming weaker by the day! After all, organizational success is based on doing work (which involves risks, lapses, and mistakes), if organizational intolerance to failure is a cachet, then organizational outcomes will never see improved fortunes! Growing organizations have a hearty appetite for knowledge, and risks!!

c) Use of positive and negative reinforcements: Life is a complement of negative and positive experiences. Fire can give warmth or it can cause burns. Utilizing perceived positive and negative reinforcements intelligently to motivate and make people work enthusiastically in the line of business goals is an important aspect of managerial work. This is not akin to the 'donkey driver model'. It involves use of intangible positive and negative reinforcers (not just tangible rewards and punishments), it is also about being tactful and discreet about these reinforcers so that desirable work behaviours are elicited.

Managership is a great responsibility, its influence on destinies is great, destinies are made or destroyed through exercise of managership. The above three keys of managership (which include elements of the 'donkey driver model') are useful for responsible and fulfilling managership experiences.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011


Above interesting graphic from here.

Knowledge is the most important resource of a firm. The insights, experiences and information - are all resources that help add value, make business processes efficient and enhance outcomes. Let us say, a MR joins a firm, does excellent work, his field work in terms of samples provided, no. of doctors and chemists met, is regularly received from him in form of reports, and is being monitored. However, one fine day, to meet his other ambitions, if the MR leaves the job, out goes with him all that territory knowledge, insights and experiences!!

Imagine, another scenario, where the knowledge bank of the MR, is stored in the IT infrastructure of the firm, ie., the database of the firm. If this data is used to provide tips either through e-mail or sms to the newly recruited MR, the territory will become productive faster.

Eg 1. of a sms to this new MR can be: "17.7.2011 is the birthdate of Dr. Sharma OBG specialist, meet him with a bouquet and detail the target products".

Eg 2. of another sms to this new MR: "Monday is an excellent day for field work in Kanakapura ex station, meet Dr. G Gowda Paediatrician and promote Product X".

The above 'marketing result improvement system' is possible only with a robust Knowledge Management System (KMS) of a firm. Knowledge needs to be:
  • Captured
  • Assimilated
  • Organized
  • Mined
  • Delivered
to the recipients, and potential beneficiaries in a proactive manner.

One can also visualize KMS as an extension of the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) modules of an organization.

Knowledge increases organizational confidence

Imagine a remotely located, highly productive field manager and his team. This closely knit team is no doubt a great asset of the organization. However, let us assume, the manager and his team leave the organization to start their organization or set up their firm. Such an event is legitimate and perfectly alright.

However, the mother organization is a loser, since the parent firm loses not only good human resources - their contacts, knowledge, insights and working patterns are all lost. One has to reinvent the wheel with a new team! This sort of a situation creates organizational weakness and erosion of organizational confidence.

Good KMS ensures seamless working

People may come and go, yet the show has to go on! Such a scenario is possible only when various systems including KMS is very strong, and so are database marketing approaches. KMS and database marketing help insulate organizations from uncertainties and ensure seamless working.

The CKOs manage and maximize the intangible assets of their organizations, they are acknowledged masters of understanding the importance of knowledge to potential beneficiaries, and ensure that this useful knowledge is provided to the potential beneficiaries. CKOs create the cutting edge for a firm, in a competitive world. CKOs not only manage field knowledge, they manage the firm's total knowledge.

As the below wordings from Wikipedia say:
  • Collecting relevant data that is useful for the organization as knowledge
  • Developing an overall framework that guides knowledge management
  • Actively promoting the knowledge agenda within and beyond the company
  • Overseeing the development of the knowledge infrastructure
  • Facilitating connections, coordination and communications.
The CKO is thus a crucial change agent of the organization, mirroring knowledge and its results to potential users, and ensuring right knowledge is available in a timely manner to the potential beneficiaries. This overall, ensures improved organizational outcomes and organizational safety.

Improving adaptability

Adaptability refers to the ability of individuals or firms to modify behaviour to suit the changed circumstance. Adaptability implies ability to learn new things (gain knowledge or learn new skills - behaviours). Adaptability of organizations makes them gain knowledge, keep an open mind, ensure constant improvement, and this contributes to the firm's success, survival and growth.

Adaptability is a offshoot of KMS. CKOs, in reality, ensure more adaptable organizations. CKOs have a tricky role. They are internal marketers of knowledge inputs.

A departmental head may be perfectly happy with the way things are going on in his area of responsibility, hence he may or may not be open to new suggestions or new knowledge. After all, new ways and new knowledge always come with an element of risk. CKOs are the ones who through their networking and communication skills impart the message of confidence, and help in absorption of knowledge to enhance departmental and finally organizational outcomes.

Knowledge provides ideas and creates visions for individuals, departments, groups and finally the firm itself. KMS make a major difference.

KMS creates adaptability and KMS is responsible to drive change - rather than succumbing to the change coming from outside. KMS represents an attitude of INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL of an organization, rather than having an EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL, where the outer forces are responsible for change and knowledge.

Good KMS = Great leadership

KMS (either officially or unofficially) is responsible for market leadership. Toyota is well known to make great cars, their way of doing work is a subject of many great case studies. However, at the root of Toyota's success, lies an avaricious organizational appetite for knowledge! Knowledge comes through an intense zeal to measure. In turn, knowledge influences practices of organizations, creates adaptability and rewards the firm with market leadership. KMS is intangible. But it creates tangible outputs.

KMS, learning, training ... these are inter-related activities. These intangibles are powerful in influencing tangible results.

KMS: today's necessity

There was a seller led economy. You had to have a production unit for the service or product, it would sell, because of the innate demand for services or products. However, the situation in most markets is now more mature. A seller mentality will not function, marketing is required, and at another level, KMS is vital. No wonder it is emphasised that these are the days of KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY.

The development of new media: to carry messages, information, insights, ideas and knowledge seamlessly, at real time and instantly has created a new and renewed emphasis on KMS of organizations.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Macro environment

The above macro environment analytical chart sourced from Pricewaterhouse (HERE)

Marketers ultimately have to ensure consumption of goods and services in the environment - outside of the company. The environment has a major influence on the marketing outcomes.

Marketing of pharma goods is affected by factors in the
a) macro environment
b) micro environment
c) internal environment

The marketing environment graphic from here.

The macro environment refers to the external factors that are outside the control of the firm. These factors are often analysed under the acronym: PEST

P for political
E for economic
S for social and cultural
T for technological

The PEST happenings shape the marketing approach and results significantly.

The winds of change (ie., enhanced media focus and calls for transparency) are blowing strongly on the healthcare sector. For eg., on page 2 of Deccan Herald (3.7.2011) an entire page is devoted to the pharma retail scene, with examples on how banned drugs are being sold and the need for better antibiotic policy. The DoP has also come out with a marketing code for pharmaceuticals in India. DoP (Department of Pharmaceuticals) has invited comments on the new code, and are seeking to make it a law if voluntary compliance from Indian pharma sector is not satisfactory. These political initiatives are certainly important - these have the potential to alter marketing outcomes emphatically.

P in PEST refers to the political (including legal) factors that affect marketing policy, strategy and results of a pharma firm. Today the 2 G spectrum issue shows graphically the impact that political and legal forces can have on enterprise fortunes.

E in PEST is the economic dimension of the macro environment.

The rising purchasing power of Indians has significant implications, since healthcare spend comes just after household routine provisions and clothes. Most of the medicine cost is borne from personal resources. The trend of Govt. pharmacies or other institutions, which provide free medicines or low cost medicines is another economic macro environmental factor. NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) is a political, legal and economic factor, decisions of this body influences pharma enterprise fortunes.

S in PEST are the social and cultural forces of change

In China, the market penetration of modern medicines is lower than that of traditional Chinese medicinal products. In India, although allopathic medicines have good market penetration, the potential is higher, and traditional Indian medicines have a lesser market value.

Many other social or cultural factors influence market habits for consumption of healthcare products. For eg., Deccan Herald (page 2, dated 3.7.2011) has highlighted the growing mistrust between doctors and patients. There are many people who prefer to seek guidance of an outstation familiar doctor rather than the neighbourhood doctor, and patients look at medical advice for diagnostic tests or emphasis on particular brands prescribed by doctors, with a sense of suspicion. Social and cultural attitudes affect healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing outcomes.

Technological (the T of PEST)trends cause seismic shifts in market trends. Today, biogeneric market is the new frontier in medicine marketing. In 3 years to come, a significant value can be expected to come from biogeneric product range. It is a new biogeneric vocabulary that is gaining ascendancy in pharma, and getting traction. EGA (European Generic Medicines Association) offers a handbook on biogenerics for informational purposes. This organization is also working as a lobbying and change agent so that European pharma companies have generic products in their basket, rather than concentrating only on 'innovator medicines'. In India, the biogeneric queen company is Biocon - it is a billion dollar (Rs. 4000 crores plus sales value) annual sales turnover firm. The business model of Biocon reflects the importance of technology and its impact on financial results of a firm.

The micro environment refers to the outer factors that are more controllable (than the factors in macro environment) for a pharma firm. For eg., distributor behaviour, local regulatory agencies, customers, intermediaries etc.

The components of the internal environment of a company are: men, machines, capital etc. These aspects are well in control of the management.

Marketers also use other acronyms to understand the macro environment:

PESTEL: is the acronym of Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal aspects of the macro environment that affect a pharma company's fortunes.

STEEPLE: expands to Social, Technological, Economic, Ethics, Political, Legal and Environmental aspects of macro environment. This framework is more important for charities and could also be considered for pharmaceutical companies since these enterprises are supposed to operate in an ethical environment, with a philosophy of ethical sales.

EPISTLE stands for Economic, Political, Information, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors of the macro environment. The dimension of Information is given an exclusive focus. Information of/from the macro environment is said to be of high value for enterprises using EPISTLE framework for scanning the environment. The EPISTLE framework is useful for share brokerage firms.

STEEL PIE is the last and not so popular framework of macro environment analysis, it stands for Social, Technological, Environmental, Ethics, Legal, Political, Information and Economic factors. STEEL PIE covers all the points of macro environmental analysis.

ONE CAN CONSIDER MEDIA as a special macro environmental factor, given the fact that it is all pervasive and highly influential.

In the early 1990s and even earlier, macro environmental analysis was of little value to pharma firms. You needed to get a license for a brand or molecule, have the copycat (reverse engineering technology) procedure to manufacture, and then market it by employing MRs. Today, the situation is different, marketability of a pharma product or products of a healthcare enterprise, needs to have macro environmental analysis to be done continuously, to see how the political, legal, social, cultural, technological, environmental, ethical, economical, informational and other factors play and impinge on the firm's functioning.

In fact, the bigger the enterprise, the more it is impacted by macro environmental factors.

API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) manufacture was a hot trend up to late 1990s, however, availability of Chinese material proved to be a game changer. Today biogenerics is becoming hot ... similarly, media, legal and political aspects are increasingly influential. It is the era of macro environmental factors in pharma marketing today!

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