Skype Me!

Skype Me?!

Being able to contact people within real time and get responses back from all different locations no matter where, is truly priceless 

In 1998 I was in New York and used the hotel phone to make some calls back to my home base in Australia. I also used a dial up account to get my emails. That used what seemed like a short time but I got a bill of over US$400 for the service. Ouch!! And believe me that hurt!!

After the first day after I checked my bill, I then went on the net and found a free service at AOL that I could use with my Yahoo account to make voice calls. At that stage we had already learned about VOIP with emerginng internet phone carriers, albeit you did have to take pot luck on the quality. It was mostly social net work tools like Yahoo and AOL we used them, but it worked.

Then with only a $US30 internet charge each day (still steep) at the Marriott, my calls cost me next to nothing and I was happy to relax and do my business.

In 2000 I was in Kuala Lumpur. In my Hotel again I just plugged into the phone for what I thought would be 30 seconds to get my mail. I was wise to the hotel charges but also prepared on this occasion to pay $US20 for a minimum 3 minute call, as it was convenient. In was soon to discover after I returned from my shower that the machine was still downloading a picture someone had decided to send.

From that moment I decided to investigate alternatives like phone cards and so on and we extended the use of Microsoft Net meeting and so on for conferencing

It was not until 2003 when in Singapore one of my team sent me a link to Skype. That was moment we truly went global as we were instantly connected in real time with a service that ranged free to cheap.

Since then we have added Skype accounts for all staff and often have web cam lines open all day between offices in different countries so we can see and be in touch with each other.

The big benefit I get out of Skype is the Video. It brings a lot of the people that I work with closer into my office and we are able to get a lot of things more effectively done that way.”

Now we can not only do calls, conferences, chat and video calls we can also send files an show lives screens to the other parties. In addition we can also record it all as a useful record of our working sessions. Now days we even have SIP enablement so the familiar phone can do its job again only better and cheaper plus it releases us from the computer.

One of the great benefits we are now finding is a recent feature added to the Skype stable is the show my screen feature. Combined with the camera provides exactness and clarity when studying an issue or resolving a problem on one side of the conversation. It one step it also removes the need for complex tools such as VNC Remote etc to do this.  Brilliant!!!

Here is an interesting video case study Skype have on their site:



Top US CEO’s of the decade

imageEric Schmidt, became CEO of Google in 2001, His watch in the decade saw the Google initial public offering in 2004 with stock skyrocketing from its $85 offering price to $600 by 2007. GOOG’s five-year return was 228.50%.

in the Huffington Post
in her article updated: 12-24-09 01:46 PM Grace Kiser goes on to say”

The 2000s certainly seem like a ghastly decade. The era’s already fabled financial debacles — among them, Enron’s bankruptcy, the burst of the tech bubble, the collapse of a number of financial and lending institutions, and Madoff’s ponzi scheme — can inspire a certain cynicism about the merits and promise of business and entrepreneurship.

But at decade’s end, we didn’t want to forget about the companies and leaders that excelled during the boom and largely weathered the downturn.

We looked at a select group of elite CEOs from a wide range of industries, and plucked out who we think demonstrated the most exceptional leadership over the past ten years. Though our analysis is admittedly subjective, we also considered stock prices — a five-year return, to be specific. And because last year’s financial crisis has battered so many stocks, we also considered softer factors such as long-term vision, brand building, and what each CEO had to contend with when they took the helm.

I do recommended to take a look at the US CEO’s nominations in Grace Kiser’s Huffington Post article. It is a great reference with a summary of the achievements of business leaders nominated. People like Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison plus many more are featured.

There is a poll to vote on too if you want to participate

Winning deals from information requests

image As part of our business at Sherwood Group Consulting, as Performance Management specialist consultants, we are often drawn in the tender process when it comes to working with large companies.

As a team we sometimes surprise ourselves when we win on our own.  But of course we never do it alone as we join large vendors like Infor, Microsoft and other big guys and with large consulting firms like Deloitte, who all bring with them their brand weight that can make us attractive.

To lead too it often makes sense, as software is now less important in terms of risk than the ground advisors who actually make it happen.  Many operators like us with corporate commercial experience on board with  business and vendor tools knowledge can make the difference. Now unlike days gone we no longer sell software but we still stand together with our vendors of choice and lead on deals for the consulting component. That way as we assess a prospect or client needs and then recommend a vendor, we are now often sought out as clincher for their sale. Taking the lead also allows us to leverage better value for our client  or prospect, which most often also gives greater value for everyone.

But enterprise projects these days are no place for the faint hearted  Clients are ruthless and commercially oriented in the mature business software vendor market. On knowledge and paying for such things procurements processes often don’t bother to invest properly in understanding what they need and the risks. Instead they rely on the market to cover them as they push all the risk to vendors.  So no matter how much you tell them they must do their homework, your contract will hang you out to dry if you don’t make it clear in the words and then fight for it as over and over again as you proceed.

When it makes sense to take the prime spot it also means joining all the players to win. That is equally tough and unrelenting as it adds bigger risks to carry the can if anyone fails.

Notwithstanding being advisors we often have no choice. Even as a minor players, be-it on design, integration, process change or the lot, if a vendor product fails, the whole project does.

Being advisory by nature always places us in the middle and we will wacked for sure if we don’t do our commercial and project homework well and know our game. It forces us to be very sharp so it is not a bad position as at least we can have some semblance of control and leverage for best options on the risk management . 

This week I was doing an RFI response which I hope will then lead to being shortlisted and then requested for a proposal.  From experience we know that deals are won and lost not on the tender but on the work that leads up to it.  So if you are lucky to be invited to respond, the information and effort and sales skill to deliver it well at the RPI stage will count.

All  RFI’s are different but having a standard boiler plate of responses can help a lot when you are slogging thru a tedious list of requirements.  Also if the RFP is sloppy or ambiguous as an appendix it may also help to narrow the risk and swing any influencer bias built into questions.

As a baseline I dug out an old FPI. It was one of those few and hard to win big deals we all used to see in the good old days. On that occasion we lead and won, based a mostly our submission. I must add that we had quality input from our partners, especially the senior people who trusted us to represent them to protect their value.

If the RFI does its job well, the next step is to respond to a request for proposal. Winning was fun as was the outcome when we got sign off on what we had promised and delivered.

If you take on tendering seriously to win it is a project of no small proportions in itself and should be treated as such.


As a useful reference I also found this process and a diagram at



In the meantime  would like to share that RFI with you now. The client name, a large multinational public listed group in Asia, has been withheld for various reasons.

Any business considering a PM or BI solution, here are some questions to ask your advisors and vendors, to see how they stack up. Even though the client name is suppressed the client questions are real. Some privacy editing has been done on our responses.

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Why I Was Fired

For the Christmas Party this week , management decided a liability issue meant staff could have alcohol, but only one drink per person…



















I was fired for ordering the cups.  B*stards!!!!

Making Leadership Choices!

image For a few years I have been routinely updating a collection of Humour for all Occasions with material my friends send to me.

Last week I received this story from Ineke Williams in Australia.

You may have seen it. It has been republished quite a bit.

Given we lead in a certain ways, the twist gives something think on to motivate.

My noble stand in sharing it on PerformanceController, is to stimulate alternative thinking on how to build winning teams. Far-fetched and unrealistic, maybe? The real truth is, I just like the story!!!

It starts and ends with a question,

Would you have made same choice?

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COP15 kicks off


COP15 is generating plenty of press with more to come as the vested interest gloves come off in the US. There today they are fighting for the status quo and argue climate change is a myth.

But the options are unpalatable if they are wrong so the world leaders do need to agree on reduction measures that will surely also mean change our excessive way of living.

COP15 agreement is the step needed to make that happen so the work can really begin

Nick Main Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT) Global Leader, Climate Change & Sustainability is on the ground at the the Copenhagen Climate conference . His blog is worth subscribing to. Here is a copy of his latest update on proceedings.

9 December 2008

Swinging into full gear

Negotiations at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) got down to action today, as controversy swirled around the release of what’s being described as a working draft of a Copenhagen agreement being proposed by developed nations. Comments we have heard suggest that developing countries should not be surprised at the existence of this paper as there are apparently several in circulation and their existence had been well signaled.

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Business Intelligent; better than sex?

Do you struggle to get the numbers you need to manage your business? Many others do too!

Dashboard reports aimage.pngre great value to have on hand and show the here and the foward looking now. When they come to life, with up to date information and the ability to rotate perspectives and drill to detail in moments, it gives a buzz that, for some, is better than sex.

Our firm recently, we rolled out the preliminary design in a working prototype BI tool for a large sales force based organization.

Impressive, beyond our expectation, excellent and just what we need were some of the comments, along with it can do this that and the next thing on analysis.

It made us feel good. The truth is, all we did was assemble their homogenized data so it presented well in our BI web tool.

This early adopter stage, with warts and all and unfinished screens, initially had people just pleased to see their data presented in a meaningfully way in familiar organization structures. Despite the effort still needed to clean up the data, being able to get to it and see the issues they knew was what mattered.

They were also excited to see top-level summaries that they could drill down immediately. This meant there was no need to go elsewhere for information. Canned reports quickly got canned as people focused on cleaning up as they already knew that would give them what they needed to run their operations.

With much of the hard work done, as the BI tool got more populated on a daily basis it never got past the design stage. Why so? Because it is already driving the business change which became a constant. Then as the business learned and matured how to manage in a very different real-time, so did its BI tool. No issue there, as reflecting the most up to date view of both the data and the organizations is what BI tools do well. Things like new products, then appear in context, as the numbers come in without any need to change reports.

Over time, in any business, everyone knows the dynamics that created a report in the first place will mature as the base level data evolves. This often leads to static legacy reporting being no longer focused properly or even being relevant.  As for the myriad of reports that initially listed for the BI rollout, the need was also being questioned.

To understand these dynamics , consider that on any given day in the month, a business typically needs to see a single value of its sales compared to its target.  Equally vital is ensuring that sales are profitable, with gross profits visible real-time all at the same levels.  That drill down is important from varied perspectives focus on products, customers, business channels and even the salesperson. Being able to see the invoice detail may be useful too. Summary canned reports, typically at the end of the month, are now far too late to be useful to manage any real-time attrition.

In a BI system, integrating vital cost information is easily done too, and can evolve as elements get added. Components, suppliers, department activity that goes into production, all add to the total picture. In spreadsheets getting these into traditional reports is a nightmare .  Even Blind Freddy knows canned reports just tell us what is at high levels but gives no answers. A BI tool does all that at all levels and goes looking for answers too and all in a snap.

Slow to produce and clumsy to use canned reports now simply fail to deliver at the levels needed to run a business. Using traditional reports are often as unwieldy as the middleware process that prepares them. In larger organizations, this is typically the cause of much of the frustration where the dynamics of matrix cross functions see lags dilute focus and time to take action.

So why do so many organizations persist with traditional dashboards and summary reports that just focus on fixed or functional areas?

And why do they persist in spending valuable time to dig for the detail, by going to another report or a listing of the raw data, to do further analysis?

At the grass-roots, getting sales information may be quite easy, just by listing the invoice detail. And if your supply chain and costing people are on the ball, costing sheets will be there as well to show supplier and department activity and costs for each product.

The tools have been there for decades but are often lost in the functional Sales Hype or in IT speak.  You will still find many managers using sales invoice and sales order lists to get sales information! A system to roll it all up and group it. like a personal spreadsheet will likely be  doing  the job and it will also serve for analysis.

With  this information, even in such tools as an Excel  pivot table, it can show total sales for the day month or year for any business channel, customer, salesman, and so on. linking product sales and cost information will also mean they can calculate gross profit on each product sold, as it occurs. And by adding a dimension for budgets and agreeing on targets, they can track that way too.  But it is tough in Excel, whereas a BI  tool lets you integrate all your data to disseminate and managed everything  in one place.

Bigger guys have more resources to use their database directly with enterprise “business intelligence” applied directly to the raw data. But the process is no more or no less the same. They use the raw information to first roll-up then drill down and analyze in detail so they can ask questions that allow them to take actions to correct matters of concern.

But as the small guys  grow they quickly find they are hamstrung by their disparate excel systems and processes, which sees them with a quandary. Organizations who have flattened to cut out middle managers who once did the analysis, see direct access to detail no longer a choice but an imperative. Small guys need it too as middle managers have always been a luxury so they do it the hard way.

These days with efficient and well-organized transaction systems, adding a simple tool on the top allows all business owners and managers big or small to see the big picture then get straight to the detail.

Here are a couple of examples

Sales Activity

By collating sales activity, lead generation and conversion measured weekly, with numbers of leads, calls made, meetings booked, and prospects qualified, sales closed, and sales completed added to tracking information. The performance focus ia not only helping sales people, but also their back office.

This is vital to meet sales targets numbers.Small teams and large widely spread sales forces also use this to keep track of commission they will get.

Sales Development Impact

For cross functional activity measuring  the value of sales force development and customer service impact is vital to know where to focus to grow the business. By tracking these activities to a salesperson’s results makes it easier to focus on  areas that need development to improve.

Pre and post training evaluations are also very easy to see once you connect the development activity to the sales person’s results.

Large or small, without good business intelligence, lack of good access to data  means  “the high risk seat-of-the-pants” or intuitive management will persist. A plethora of static reports that continue in large organizations with thousands of players, means for them reactive response management is now all too slow.

In the past, as we focused on speeding up reporting processes, our aim was  to spend more time on analysis and less on the preparation. Business intelligence transparency has since matured in organizations, so managers get to the heart of their issues on a day-to-day basis faster. This means they spend less time in analysis more time in action.

The need for a BI tool is a “No Brainer” If don’t have one we can get our comfortable walking shoes on and help you find the one to suit and help you get it into the right place to manage and grow your business.



 Sherwood Group Consulting

Performance Management matters

Since 1993. Sherwood Group Consulting has been advising business on best practice in reporting and business performance management. 


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