I was in a Business Planning & Product Management role when the vice president I reported to called me to his office. The Engineering Department was struggling to get enough capable software programmers to expand some of the internal projects they needed to resource.
The executive staff knew of a small, high output software team 400 miles away. They could never get enough, much less all, of those people to relocate. So, the strategy was to acquire that business and re-task the employees.
To achieve the acquisition, the CEO felt the Board of Directors would have to be convinced the target company would become a new division, with its own product line that could be ramped to P&L success. My assignment was to draft a business & marketing planning document that would demonstrate how the business could be a big success on its own.
We delivered the plan and the acquisition was approved. However, shortly after the transition of ownership was complete, our executives realized the “justification” plan could work. The acquired team stayed on its original project. The result was a very long run of significant product success, with that division being purchased for a nice figure several years later.
In another instance, we had an installed base of a combination hardware-software system designed for enterprise use. My Product Management team could see value in increasing the capacity of the system’s electronic storage cabinets.
Working with Fujitsu, our technical team integrated the new, larger devices. Marketing crafted a plan with target revenues. When we reached the $1 million mark in just a matter of months (our primary goal), we reported the results to senior management.
One of them told me the only reason they wanted the project done was to pacify two of our larger customers. They didn’t really care, or believe, that we would hit the $1 million mark, much less do it so quickly.
The question to ask yourself
If you’re in management, what motivated you to launch a particular project? (Quite frankly, sometimes it’s driven by emotion, competitiveness or panic.) Regardless, rethink the possibilities and support your staff in pursuing a larger goal in ways that will maximize gain. If you slow the process prematurely – such as when a corporate transaction is complete or a valuable customer has been satisfied – you risk leaving a lot of money in the market that could have come your way.