Bain: Management tool use remains solid around globe

10 July 2015

With business trends showing that companies are moving forward in terms of revenue and competitive advantage, the kinds of management tools deployed by executives may give an insight into their long term planning, according to a recently released Bain & Company report. A top performing tool in terms of uptake and satisfaction remains CRM, followed by employment surveys. One key contender in terms of satisfaction however, is Big Data – even if its uptake still remains relatively weak.

For 15 years Bain & Company has, biennially, released a global index of the 25 most used management tools by businesses in 70 countries around the world. This year’s survey, titled ‘Management Tools & Trends’, the index is developed from 1,067 completed surveys from a broad range of international executives across all industries.

The view on management trends

Management trends
The survey finds that most senior executives are confident about their current position in the market, expecting the coming years to show continued improvement to the lot of their business. Three-quarters (74%) say that their current financial position is strong and the same amount (75%) say that their ability to adapt to change is one of their most significant competitive advantages. Innovation too remains an important aspect of the business environment, trumping – in certain instances – the need to cut costs.

In terms of unfavourable conditions, 62% believe customers are now less loyal, while excessive complexity is creating poor growth prospects. Other trends noted by respondents are that managers are now more and more looking to the short-term, long-term planning is down from 64% in 2013 to 58% in 2015. In addition, a focus on revenue growth over cost cutting has decreased to 52% of respondents from 57% in 2013.

Most used tools

Tool satisfaction
The key findings from this year’s report are that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) remains the #1 tool in terms of uptake globally for driving management trends, although there is considerable regional variation. The tool ranks #4 in North and Latin American market and #2 in in the APAC market.

Benchmarking is one of the #2 tools globally. However, although it is the primary tool in EMEA, in the APAC it is one of the least used tools at number 14. Other #2 tools include Employment Engagement Surveys, which is the most used tool in the North American market, and Strategic Planning, which is the most used tool in Latin America.

2014 usage and satisfaction

User satisfaction
In terms of the satisfaction users have with their management tools, CRM is the most well rounded in terms of high satisfaction (3.93) and the highest global uptake. This was followed by employment surveys at 3.75 points of satisfaction to its high use rated. While Big Data Analytics is the top performer in terms of satisfaction (4.01), it is a much less used tool in the management arsenal. In terms of poorly satisfying, but often used tools, outsourcing (3.61) finds itself on top of the list.

Major efforts achieve higher satisfaction

Effort changes satisfaction
One further aspect highlighted by the report is that the different tools vary in their level of satisfaction based on the level of effort put into their implementation. Big Data for instance scores a 4.22 in satisfaction from increased effort, and falls to 3.65 with limited effort. Innovation labs too show similar variation (4.22 vs. 3.70). Digital transformations have the potential to go very badly, with a score of 4.17 for highly active efforts and 3.52 for low effort operations.


How First Consulting generates more insight using fewer reports

08 March 2019

Organisations are continuously investing in more advanced data collection and manipulation methods to enable smarter and more informed business decisions. In order to maximise their business value, companies understand the growing need for performance related insights from their data. First Consulting, a consultancy firm specialised in business change, has helped many clients in the utilities sector to deliver effective change through improved use of their data.

Most utilities firms are structured in such a way that every business unit has a team of analysts who are responsible for providing relevant data insights to their business colleagues. The business analysis teams form the link between business decision making and IT by translating business requests into meaningful actions and delivering information via reports.

Typically, the business user will receive a unique report for each information request, with each new report requiring individual, tailored support from the analyst team. This limits the productivity of the analyst teams and minimises their ability to address new data requests. The growing demand for information puts additional pressure on these teams, as a significant amount of time is required simply to gather and update the required data. This has caused reporting portfolios to expand dramatically. However, due to the analysts’ already stretched capacity, reports do not always deliver the most vital information and documentation is often incomplete.

Redesigning information delivery

At First Consulting, business consultants work in close collaboration with their clients to improve the mechanism for the delivery of information and analysis in response to business requests. The improved structure focuses on providing information per role type, rather than per request. As such, one dashboard is designed for each organisational role type, with all the relevant information presented in a single overview. This allows all individuals of a given role type to open a single dashboard and view what they need, as opposed to collating a large range of disparate links and unique reports which, previously, were all required to enable business decision making.

Moving from unique reports for each request, to reusing KPIs in a select group of dashboards

By implementing this new way of working, clients are able to reduce the reporting portfolio from over 100 reports to fewer than 20 dashboards (see figure above). In addition, the capacity for data maintenance can be reduced significantly by using modular KPIs, allowing for the re-use of data across multiple dashboards.

Changing while everyday work continues

In order to deliver effective change, it is essential that day-to-day processes remain unaffected whilst transitioning to a new reporting landscape. First Consulting achieves this by embedding business consultants within the client’s analysis team to gain feedback and determine exactly what visuals are necessary within the dashboards. This focuses effort on the outcome (such as what should be presented in the final dashboard) and allows a broad range of requirements to be considered in the business context and combined, where appropriate.

Key users and stakeholders are involved from the outset to help define what makes a high-quality dashboard. Adopting this approach helps the team to produce an optimal output that contains the key business information for the appropriate roles in an easy-to-use format.

Once it is clear what should be included in the final dashboard and how this should be presented, the team works according to the priorities set out by the product owner. This ensures that analysts work on the requirements which deliver the most value and which form the most coherent dashboards.

Main results

The advantages of implementing straightforward, no-nonsense solutions using fewer reports are particularly noticeable for the business and for the analyst teams:

  • Making adjustments is easier and maintaining and updating data costs less time
  • Management information is displayed in one location and is displayed according to defined standards, facilitating decision making
  • There is greater capacity within the business for complex analysis and project support

First Consulting combines process, technology, and implementation consulting to deliver impactful and value-adding solutions. The firm has more than 200 consultants based in the UK and the Netherlands.