Archive for February, 2009

The Quality vs. Quantity Debate: Starbucks as a Case Study in Regional Coverage vs. Quality of Service

starbucks-2

Beth Vanni

Beth Vanni

Today’s headlines add to the growing “chicken little” reaction to the U.S. economic woes….   “Starbucks Cutting More Jobs, Closing Stores.”   Now, I’m a pretty loyal Starbuck’s customer (sometimes two Venti ice teas a day!), but also a 25 year channel analyst.   And, my reaction to this headline was a candid “Well, of course they are!”

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February 6, 2009 at 11:33 pm 1 comment

Stretching Your Dollar – Suggestions for Managing Consulting Engagements

sandra-final1

Sandra Glaser Cheek

Stretching Every Dollar
Making the Most of Consulting Engagements

Even with budget and headcount constraints, many of our clients continue to view outsourcing as a smart and strategic way to do more, with fewer available resources. In these tight economic times, we offer some tips to get the most out of your consulting engagements.

  • Set a firm budget before launching the project.
  • Commit to longer than 90 days. Longer commitments generally result in savings.
  • Be clear on the format and delivery method of project materials. Choose a method that reinforces or “socializes” the outcomes through the organization.
  • Identify consultant-critical tasks that leverage the consultant’s specialized skill-set. Assign other general organizational tasks to an internal resource.
  • Be flexible. Can the consultant work off-site, partial day, etc? Flexibility on the client’s part can result in a wider pool of available talent for your project.
  • Play to each consultant’s strengths. Engage senior consultants to define strategies and models. Hire program specialists for tactical implementation. Plan ahead to ensure higher cost consultants aren’t executing administrative tasks.
  • Include mentoring and/or training milestones to leverage the talent of senior consultants and improve the skills/knowledge of your team.
  • Share the project’s findings with cross-functional groups in order to maximize the investment and gain “buy-in” from other groups.
  • Include knowledge-sharing time into the project scope. This ensures that “Intellectual Property” remains a part of your company after the engagement has ended.
  • Consider hiring a consultant on a post-project “retainer” basis. This allows you to maintain a low-cost safety net during transition time.

February 5, 2009 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

Cisco Expands Small Business Portfolio

Is a $100m investment enough to overcome the company’s legacy enterprise reputation?

By Beth Vanni

Cisco, the IT networking giant, continues to expand and strive to dominate new markets.   In this case, the market isn’t new, but the degree of financial investment and product portfolio is.

The company has had a “commercial” products division for years with products and partnerships aimed at the SMB market.  But historically, SMB really meant enterprise products “defeatured”, repriced and repackaged for down-market customers.   However, Cisco recently announced an expanded set of resources and products aimed squarely at small business customers ( those with 100 employees or less) that make me think they’re getting more serious.  This investment now includes not only an expanded product set, but some new easy-access technical support models, some significant demand generation marketing and a dedicated field organization to cater to this market.
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February 3, 2009 at 12:49 am Leave a comment


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