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Tag Archives: Competitive Advantage

Modernize Your Board’s Role in M&A and Achieve the Greatest Deals

11 Mar

Many large corporations depend on M&A for growth and executives can boost the value that deals create. But poorly executed M&A can saddle investors with weak returns on capital for details. In fact, the margin between success and failure is slim.

Many Boards are reluctant to cross the line between governance and management. The level of engagement is often outside the comfort zone for some executives and directors. As such, they miss opportunities to help senior executives win at M&A.

There is a need to modernize the Board’s role in M&A. Modernizing the role of the Board in M&A can result in the alignment of the Board and management on the need for bolder transactions with more upside potential. Further, this is essential in achieving a competitive advantage.

The 3 Core Opportunities in M&A

There are 3 core opportunities for the Board to play an impactful role in M&A.

  1. Potential for Value Creation. The first core opportunity, potential for Value Creation enables the Board to challenge the executive’s thinking on potential transactions. This is an opportunity for the Board to maintain constant touch with the company’s M&A strategy, the pipeline of potential targets, and emerging deals.
  2. PMI Plans. This is an essential core opportunity that enables the Board to boost value creation to as much as 2-3x the net value. Post-merger Integration (PMI) Plans represent an opportunity to pressure test against stretch growth and cost goals before and after a deal. Greater variation in the quality of post-merger plans exist compared to financial analysis and pricing of transactions.
  3. Competitive Advantage in M&A. Competitive Advantage is a core opportunity that is unrelated to a transaction’s deadline. This is an opportunity to create a competitive advantage through M&A skills. These are corporate assets that can be difficult to copy. Making that decision to create a competitive advantage through M&A can lead to bolder decisions with more upside results.

The 3 core opportunities can promote greater Board engagement. When this happens, discrete deals can be converted into ongoing deal processes and dialogues that can deliver greater value from M&A.

Maximizing Core Opportunities to Attain the Greatest Deal

The potential of the 3 Core Opportunities to embolden the role of the Board in M&A is great. Organizations just need to have a good understanding of each core opportunity and the underlying key areas or dimensions of each key area. Let us take a look at the 1st Core Opportunity: Potential for Value Creation.

The Potential for Value Creation has 3 critical key areas that can challenge that lead opportunistic transaction to succeed. One critical key area is Strategic Fit.

Strategic Fit is key to determining why a company is a better owner than competing buyers. Deals driven by strategy succeed more often when they are part of a stream of similar transactions that support that strategy. This is a key element in Strategy Development.

How can we enhance the role of the Board relative to this key area? The Board can play a vital role in clarifying the relationship between a potential transaction and strategic planning. They are also in the best position to define how the deal will support organic-growth efforts in target markets and provide complementary sources of value creation.

The other key areas under the Potential for Value Creation are Financial Statements and Risks vs. Rewards. The Financial Statements is a key area that can correct the Board’s tendency to put emphasis on price-to-earnings multiples which can be limiting. The Risks vs. Rewards, on the other hand, is a key area that challenges the Board to acknowledge uncertainties in pro forma.

The other 2 Core Opportunities also have their own essential points or dimensions the Board must focus on. Only then can these core opportunities be of the maximum potential of modernizing the Board’s role in M&A and gaining the greatest value.

Interested in gaining more understanding of achieving Board Excellence through M&A? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Board Excellence: M&A here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Are you a management consultant?

You can download this and hundreds of other consulting frameworks and consulting training guides from the FlevyPro library.

Strategy Classic Series: Porter’s Five Forces

20 Feb

competition-Ice Hockey

Michael Eugene Porter—a Professor at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School—is widely acclaimed for his unmatched prowess in competitive strategy, strategic planning, global economic development, and the application of competitive principles and strategic approaches.  Renowned as the father of modern day strategy, Dr. Porter is an author of 18 books and a number of articles.

His scholarly writings on management and competitiveness are ranked as the most influential pieces of work till date.  Dr. Michael Porter is widely known for his Porter’s Five Forces framework, which is a useful tool to evaluate the competitiveness of an organization with respect to its rivals.  Competition is part and parcel of every industry, and for the existence of an enterprise it is important to know its rivals and how their product / service offerings and marketing strategies affect the market.  It is a common foundational framework used in Strategy Development.

The Five Forces framework emphasizes on 5 critical elements that determine the attractiveness of a business against its rivals in the industry:

  1. Threat of New Entrants
  2. Supplier Power
  3. Buyer Power
  4. Threat of Substitution
  5. Competitive Rivalry

Threat of New Entrants

This element examines the simplicity or complexity of an industry for the competitors to jump in.  High-return industries are more appealing to new entrants.  A market with easy access for new entrants poses greater risk—of market share diminishing—for established businesses.  New entrants in an industry are able to dent the profitability of established players unless the incumbents retaliate strongly and make the entry of new firms challenging.

A serious threat to entry also relies on the existing barriers in the industry.  If the market entry barriers are high and there is an expected sharp response from the entrenched competitors, the newcomers will think twice before entering the market.  Another important factor for new entrants is the requirement for large capital for branding, advertising and creating product demand, which limits their entry in a niche market.  Aspiring market entrants should thoroughly analyze and understand all the critical barriers to entry before entering an industry—such as economies of scale, product differentiation, capital investment, access to distribution channels, and government policies and regulations.

There 6 prevalent types of barriers to entry:

  1. Economics of scale
  2. Product differentiation
  3. Capital requirements
  4. Cost disadvantages (independent of size)
  5. Access to distribution channels
  6. Government / regulatory policy

Supplier Power

Suppliers are a powerful force that influences the competitiveness of an industry.  They create immense pressure on market players by slashing the quality of goods and by increasing prices, thereby squeezing the margins of manufacturers.  For instance, by jacking up the price of soft drink concentrate, suppliers erode profitability of bottling companies.  The bottlers, in turn, don’t have much leverage to raise their own prices because of intense competition from fruit drinks, powdered mixes, and other beverages.

The power of a supplier group amplifies if it’s dominated by a few firm, has differentiated and unique products; and has built up switching costs that buyers face when changing suppliers, for making investments in specialized equipment, or in learning how to operate a supplier’s equipment.  The supplier group also thrives when there isn’t much competition for sale to the industry, or when the industry is not its major customer, as this saves the supplier from selling at a bargain and investing in R&D and lobbying for the industry.

Buyer Power

Buyer or customer groups also impact the competitiveness of an industry landscape by exercising their power to bring the prices down, insist on higher quality, or demand more service.  A buyer group is powerful if it buys in large volumes in an industry characterized by heavy fixed costs and buys undifferentiated or standard products.  Buyers have the ability to put one supplier against another and find alternative suppliers.

The power of a buyer group increases if it’s a low profit business—providing it the reason to be price sensitive and insist on lower purchasing costs—, if the industry’s product is insignificant to the quality of the buyers’ products or services, or if the product that suppliers provide does not save much for the buyer.  Buyers can also use the threat of self-manufacturing as a bargaining lever against the suppliers.

Threat of Substitution

Substitute product or service offerings restrict the capacity of an industry by placing an upper limit on prices it can charge.  The industry’s earnings and profits will continue to suffer lest it can enhance the quality of products or create differentiation through, for instance, aggressive marketing.

If substitute products offer more competitive price-performance trade-off, then the industry’s profitability gets limited or goes down.  For instance, the erosion of profits for the sugar industry due to substitution of sugar with commercialized high-fructose corn syrup.

Internal Rivalry

Internal Rivalry, existing at the center of Porter’s Five Forces framework, represents the competition between existing players often leads to rivals using manipulative tactics like price competition, new product launch, and advertising wars.  Companies can use strategic shifts to improve their competitive position—e.g., raising buyers’ switching costs, increasing differentiation, and focusing on low fixed costs areas.

Interested in learning more about the other critical elements of the Porter’s Five Forces and their role in in determining the state of competition and profit potential of an industry?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Porter’s Five Forces here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Are you a Management Consultant?

You can download this and hundreds of other consulting frameworks and consulting training guides from the FlevyPro library.

Just Too Many Processes? Gain Back your Competitiveness through Global Process Optimization

24 Nov

Management processes–everything from how a company manages risk to how it gets supplies for factories to how it manages and develops people–are some of the primary ways that global companies impose order and consistency on a diverse set of global operations.  Companies believe that processes can help share knowledge across divisions and regions. Likewise, seamless delivery and service processes can be central to meeting customer expectations.

In a world where the pace of competition is increasing faster than ever, best-in-class processes can create competitive advantages when it comes to innovation and risk management. However, researches have shown that companies are particularly poor at managing processes. Often there are just too many processes. Worst, executives often do not know where to begin.

Global Process Optimization is the strategic approach to building a real Competitive Advantage.  However, it can be a challenge and there are pitfalls that organizations must face.

The Pitfalls of Organizations

Global organizations are particularly poor at managing processes. Processes are considered one of the 3 weakest aspects of organizations and strengthening them is crucial.

Based on a McKinsey survey of executives, executives do not know what their processes are.  Inasmuch as there are just too many processes, these processes do not reflect new customer needs. In fact, there exists a resistance to change that can be damaging to an organization.

Organizations have to understand that processes can go wrong on a global scale and it can bring in a lot of challenges to an organization.

The 3 Core Challenges to Global Organizations

Organizations are faced with 3 core challenges when dealing with processes and transforming them to a global scale.

  1. A Plethora of Processes. When there are a plethora of processes, there are just too many processes and too little value.  This happens when executives are unable to differentiate between processes that are essential to creating global value and those that are inessential but offer benefits if these are consistent.  Executives also fail to differentiate between processes that are crucial to customers or those that create value and those that do not. A plethora of processes is also created when the operation is in various locations or as a result of M&A activity.
  2. Overstandardization. How do you know that overstandardization exists? It is when processes are so rigid that they are slow to respond to new growth. As a result, there is a dramatic decrease in local responsiveness. This core challenge often arises because there is just too much concern about maximizing control and reducing risk.
  3. Resistance to Change. This is the third core challenge faced when change is introduced and there is resistance. Resistance to change often occurs when there is difficulty in changing customer-facing processes until the organization is faced with customer backlash. Executives often fail to understand customers’ preference for standard global service. The thinking is often directed towards country-specific variations which are not often what customers like.

Overcoming the 3 core challenges can be done. Organizations just need to take on a 3-phase approach that will ensure that all global processes are enabling performance. These are Prioritize, Optimize, and Implement. A 3-phase approach is an effective tool towards approaching Global Process Optimization in a strategic manner where value is maximized at minimal cost and complexity.

Interested in gaining more understanding of Global Process Optimization? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Global Process Optimization here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Are you a management consultant?

You can download this and hundreds of other consulting frameworks and consulting training guides from the FlevyPro library.


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