November 2007

Todd Herman

Today, value in the "new economy" is based less on physical assets, and more on intangible assets.

These key intangible assets are:

  • People – the embodiment of intellectual capital
  • Process – the steps for getting things done
  • Technology – the software applications used in the business

Consider the many pieces of technology needed to efficiently and effectively carry out a company's mission – order processing, operations, financials, customer relationships, web site, and email are "entry level" requirements to be in business.

How to address these technology needs? Several of our small-to-medium sized business (SMB) clients handle technology-related responsibilities, as follows:

  • Internal staff typically provide – as part of their "other duties" – first level help desk and support.
  • Company A externally hosts the web site and email.
  • Company B provides support for servers and PC's inside the company firewall.
  • Company C is the vendor for the business and financial applications – and, depending on the software, Company D may be involved for industry-specific customizations.

The number of pieces compounds the daunting task of aligning People, Process, and Technology – Together (PPT-T) to produce consistent and repeatable business results. This alignment is difficult, even for large companies having "product experts" knowing the specifics of a product.

Alignment is harder still for SMB's – few persons can do it all and, if they can, an SMB probably cannot afford them, or hold their interest for long.

Where do we fit in this technology ecosystem? We help companies define their own "big picture" of how technology can be used to support their strategic goals, and then help them work toward their unique alignment of PPT-T to support their strategy.

The Discipline of Market Leaders, by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, outlines the 3 competitive strategies – or "disciplines" – a company can use to dominate a specific market.

  • Companies practicing Operational Excellence compete on low cost by emphasizing their supply, production and distribution processes – Wal-Mart epitomizes such a company.
  • A Product Leader company, such as Nike, continually improves product performance by emphasizing processes to research, develop, and successfully launch new products.
  • Customer Intimate companies emphasize their customer selection, acquisition, retention, and growth processes. Todd Herman Associates is a Client Intimate firm – while attributes of our services meet general requirements for all professional services, we differentiate ourselves through highly customized services, an intimate working partnership of client and our personnel, and a trusted brand built and nurtured for over 18 years.

Once a specific strategic discipline is recognized, implications in aligningPPT-T for business results become clear and actionable – and companies differentiate themselves by the relative emphasis given to specific processes.

Business executives want to know – "How do we go about improving our business results?" The answer is this: with better alignment of your true assets – people, process, and technology – you can meet your specific strategic goals. Not sure where to start? A good starting place is to review your key processes with a Business Process Review and Improvement assessment – a short (3 to 5 days), focused engagement to analyze major processes, assess the existence (or lack) of alignment, identify opportunities to improve alignment, and estimate benefits and costs of those improvements. Actionable items can then be defined, prioritized, and implemented.

Aligning PPT-T effectively is a discipline itself, because it requires a sustained focus uncommon in today's environment. In considering our recent work, I am struck by one client who has been consistently working to improve alignment for nearly 3 years. The payoff? Top line growth, bottom line growth, and tasks flowing smoothly through a focused, disciplined, well-aligned business.

Are you ready to get started?


Todd L. Herman

Todd L. Herman

Client Project Update:

I am pleased to provide you with an update on our client projects. Projects we have completed over this period are...

ERP System Screening

Worked with department managers to assess the key needs of a new ERP system, helping this fast-growing convertor determine a vendor short list with several systems meeting functional and cost objectives.

Improved Billing Accuracy

Developed an automated verification and reporting process enabling billing representatives to find and fix incomplete or inaccurate information before sending bills to insurers, reducing after-the-fact research and rebills, and speeding receipt of payments.

Evaluating Contract Profitability

Completed an ASP application based on SQL Server components to compute the true reimbursement, net of contractual and other allowances, for services performed, allowing this medical testing services provider to assess the true profitability of its contracts.

Automating Time Sheet Import

Automated the import of employee time sheets from Excel into an Access database, allowing this therapeutics company to quickly accumulate time to client and internal project codes.

Updating Performance Appraisal System

Updated the Lotus Notes-based performance appraisal system for a pharmaceutical firm, enabling new performance review criteria and processes to be quickly and easily deployed.

Evaluating Technology Issues

Advised this professional services firm on various technology issues, helping them understand the costs and benefits of options being considered.

Restating Financials

Developed and directed the restatement procedures to remove an audit opinion qualification, allowing this foundation to accurately present prior year statements and regain the trust of its donors and member organizations.

System Design and Testing

Worked with managers of this insurance company to assess and address issues in their main business system, providing testing and design assistance for their vendor.

Future projects we are planning include...

System Design for Offshore Processing

Plan and design the system changes needed to support a new offshore manufacturing plant, enabling this company to simultaneously support domestic and offshore processing of all manufacturing operations.

Technology Usage Review

Review technology usage and develop enabling systems and analyses, allowing this early stage medical-related firm to cost-effectively develop technology capabilities comparable to its larger competitors.

Statutory and GAAP Insurance Ledgers

Adapt a software application integrating insurance operations data into the financial system of this multi-state insurance company, producing both statutory and GAAP ledgers for its property, casualty, and life insurance lines of business.

Infinium Report Development

Develop financial reports for the Infinium financial suite, allowing this company to analyze profits by product line, customer, and division.

Improving Recording and Reporting

Plan and manage the chart of accounts restructuring for this national industry association, simplifying transaction recording and improving management reporting and program accountability.

Process Redesign

Redesign the process to store and report packaging and folding instructions for this apparel manufacturer, eliminating process redundancies and improving reporting capabilities.

Litigation Support

Analyze a large volume of complex accounts receivable and collection activity underlying a mediation case, helping attorneys for this law firm understand the industry-specific issues, to better formulate the strategy for their client.

Secure Internet Statement Retrieval

Develop a custom web application enabling clients of this medical services company to securely retrieve their monthly statements via the Internet, reducing processing costs for both the company and its clients.