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zuppli available in Denmark and Sweden

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

We are very pleased to announce that Codexx has signed an agreement with scat3 of Denmark to provide the zuppli digital supply chain service to progressive businesses in Denmark and Sweden.

scat3 provides consulting and solutions to help businesses improve and digitalize their supply chains to improve their competitiveness. More information at scat3.com.

The zuppli digital service was developed by Codexx to help businesses drive supplier performance improvement via two-way performance transparency. More information available at zuppli.com

Alastair Ross, Director of Codexx said: “I am excited to be working with scat3 to make zuppli available to customers in Denmark and Sweden. Over many years of working with businesses in Scandinavia I have experienced their culture for innovation and exploiting new ways of working. I believe that these progressive businesses will embrace the opportunities that zuppli offers them for driving supply chain performance improvement.”

New zuppli digital service for supplier improvement

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

We’re pleased to be announce the launch of a new digital service – zuppli – to help businesses improve the performance of their suppliers.

zuppli allows businesses to assess (and be assessed by) their suppliers every quarter, to provide a full ‘two-way’ view of their inbound supply chain. This information provides the foundation for driving improvement – in both suppliers and a business manages its supply chain.

zuppli is the result of a number of years work by Codexx and its software partner. It leverages our expertise in benchmarking and new cloud technologies. zuppli gives businesses a highly cost-effective and easy-to-deploy solution to help them catalyse, analyse and implement improvements in their suppliers.

For more information on the zuppli service go to www.zuppli.com

 

Driving supplier performance improvement

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Our latest whitepaper discusses effective approaches for driving supplier performance improvement and looks at how improving performance transparency in the inbound supply chain can help.

Your can read the paper here:

How do you enable high performing suppliers – CODEXX WHITEPAPER

10 years since I started Codexx – what have I learned?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Today is the 18 year anniversary of when my consulting business – Codexx Associates Ltd – was incorporated in the UK. I mentioned this to a good friend and he asked me what my thoughts were about it 18 years ago. It prompted me to think about what I’ve learned in those 18 years. So here are 10 things that I’ve learned.

1. Determine the goals for your business – that work for you

Some want to build an empire, others a small-holding – neither is right or wrong. I left my corporate consulting job and started Codexx as I wanted to do interesting, innovative and useful consulting projects, help clients, build a good reputation, keep a good family-work balance and have fun. A smart farm-sized knowledge-based business with no company politics if you like…

2. Have a clear proposition and market

This is one of the toughest tasks. Coming from a consulting career in a big corporate I had lots of experience and thus potential services I could provide. But as a small consultancy you need to focus. A wide portfolio is simply not credible to clients. You need a few service areas that you can focus on, become expert and get known for. Start with areas that you are passionate about and expert in and where there is a ready, profitable and sustained market.

3. Be prepared to change your proposition and market

As our military tell us ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’ – in this case markets and competition change and your business must adapt if it is to survive and prosper. My original focus sector was Industrial due to my past experience, but I later found a major market in professional service businesses seeking to codify and re-engineer their services. I successfully pivoted Codexx to increase focus in this area. I’m currently working with a partner on a new digital service for supply chain improvement that came out of a consulting project a few years back, when I wondered why we couldn’t do this on the internet…

4. Work to differentiate your offering

In this digital and globalised business world, it is all too easy to find that your offering is being commoditized. There are smart people everywhere, many of them able to deliver a similar service to yours much more cheaply. You need to identify critical areas of your service that clients value and can enable effective differentiation on elements other than price – things like personal relationships, proprietary methods and data (e.g. benchmarking), quality, experience and industry knowledge. You also need to identify lower value services or service elements that you should move out of. It’s an ongoing and dynamic battle to avoid being sucked down the plughole of commoditization.

5. Build your network and create win-win

Codexx is built on an associate model. One of my goals was to have a variable cost consulting model so that I was not spending my time ‘selling the bench’ to cover fixed costs and therefore sometimes providing non-optimum consulting skills to clients. I built a network of experienced consultants and academics that I brought in on Codexx projects to build a team with the skills and expertise needed for client projects. Ensure your associates are also ‘winning’ too. Pay them fairly for their work and treat them with respect; let them benefit from being part of your network.

6. Find good clients and serve them with all your energy and passion

This is simply critical to your business success. Good clients are of course profitable clients, but they are also progressive clients who are open to new ideas, won’t micro-manage you and from whom you can learn from. Unfortunately not all clients will be like this…

7. Build a thick skin

You’ll need this for selling and also working in some clients. What can you do to minimise this unpleasantness? Build a differentiated offering and marketing approach that makes selling less competitive. And work with clients for more than just the money (though this is not always possible in tough times).

8. Be brave and keep challenging the norms

Business consultants are there to change things – to make things better. Many times clients will recognise that improvement is needed. But many times they won’t. With your multi-business, multi-sector experience and awareness of new methods and technologies you can see the possibilities of improvement and new methods that your clients may not. So you will get push-back: ‘That won’t work here’, ‘It’s not practical’, ‘That’s just crazy’. Some sectors are naturally conservative and resistant to change. I found the established paradigm in the legal sector was that you couldn’t have both low cost and high quality – it was one or the other. Successful legal service re-engineering projects broke this paradigm. But it was a constant battle. You have to believe in yourself, use objective evidence, find internal champions, start small and demonstrate success.

9. Keep learning

We live in a time of such change with new methods and technologies constantly emerging. And in your client projects you receive ongoing lessons on different approaches and outcomes – on what works well and doesn’t at all. You need to continue to keep your offerings relevant to client needs and regularly improve them (and yourself) based on your experience. For the last few years I’ve been teaching consulting and innovation to MBA and MSc students. The old maxim ‘to teach you must learn’ is so true! Indeed the more I learn, the more I realise how much more I need to know. So whilst you need to be confident in your abilities as a consultant, don’t forget to keep some humbleness – you can always learn new things and be better.

10. Maintain your perspective

Stress and overwork is the regular bedfellow of many professionals and most small business owners. Sometimes it can all become too much. Your business is important, but you are more important. Don’t forget that.

End point

I hope this is of use to some of you looking to start your own consulting businesses. Of course the nature of learning is that this time next year I’ll have an updated top ten list…

Alastair Ross is Director of Codexx Associates Ltd and also teaches consulting and innovation on MSc and MBA programmes at the University of Southampton Business School. His latest book ‘Thinking about value’ is available on Amazon.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 10th July 2020.

Professional development in an age of uncertainty

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Yesterday the University of Exeter Business School presented its report on professional development and the needs of Executive Education in a seminar at the Business School.

‘Executive education in an age of uncertainty’ shared the findings of a study involving nearly 50 business and public sector organisations in the South of England.

Codexx was pleased to be involved in the study as the lead research partner and build on its existing relationship with the Business School by supporting Bill Russell, the Director of Executive Education in this project. 

The report provides insights into the challenges and approaches organisations are taking for professional development in these ‘uncertain’ times – with a combination of Brexit, economic challenges, accelerating technology and new business models. It also identifies key requirements for the providers of Executive Education based on the feedback from organisations in the study interviews and questionnaire.

The report also shares the new degree and executive education services the Business School will be launching from 2018, enabling organisations to make use of the Apprenticeship Levy for Level 6 and Level 7 personnel development.

You can read the report here.

Executive Education in an age of uncertainty

For more information on the Executive Education programmes, contact the University of Exeter Business School here.

 

Why great products are not enough – the story of Nokia

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

The second video in our series ‘Why great products are not enough’ covers Nokia and its fall from market dominance in mobile phones in 2005 to market exit less than 10 years later. There are key lessons to be learned from Nokia’s experience. In this video Alastair Ross reviews Nokia’s fall and analyses why and how it happened and the key weaknesses in Nokia’s business model and capabilities.

 

Why’s your innovation engine misfiring?

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Innovation is increasingly critical to business survival

We live in times of major change driven by a combination of globalisation, rapid technology development, the accelerating impact of the internet as a platform for social and business collaboration, security threats and changes in the power balance between the East and West.

The result is a turbulent environment where businesses continually need to adapt their business models and value propositions to meet new competitive conditions. In this challenging environment the ability to effectively innovate is becoming a core competence for businesses seeking to prosper in the short term and survive in the longer term.

How do you ensure that your innovation system is up to the job?

And and if it isn’t, how do you improve it?

Our latest whitepaper tells you how – you can read it here:

Why’s your innovation engine misfiring?

Why great products are not enough – the story of Psion

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Psion logo full

Businesses with great products have enthusiastic and loyal users who value the functionality and other benefits provided by these products. But for a product to be great – there needs to be something more: an ’emotional connection’ made with users. This so-called ‘joy of use’ moves a product from being merely ‘good’ to ‘great’.

In the 1980s to 1990s Psion was  such a company, providing great products in the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) market with an enthusiastic user base. For many years it was the market leader with products such as the Series 3 and Series 5 PDAs were best sellers. So why did it exit the PDA market in 2001 – to the disappointment of its customers? And what can businesses learn from their experience?

A new Codexx video tells the story.

 

 

New videos – value-based innovation & behavioural change

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Front page 5
New videos have been added to the our YouTube channel ‘Business Innovator’. The Business Innovator channel is our channel for sharing innovation approaches and our professional experience with a wide community of businesses, change agents and students.

Videos are intentionally short – to provide interest and insights within ‘bite-sized’ chunks.

Latest videos include:

Thinking about value and how to innovate it

The importance of behavioural change in business transformation

Why not take a look –  we hope you find them useful – and we welcome any comments!

 

The Brexit cost challenge – an effective services response

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

 Stock trading monitor (black and white)

Brexit challenges both UK and non-UK businesses

Over the next decade, with economic challenges and potential tariff barriers post Brexit, both UK-based businesses and also those businesses exporting into the UK, will be facing uncertainty, pricing challenges and competitive pressures.

The impact on business services

The inevitable response of businesses tightening their budgets will impact the professional service firms which supply them with research, legal, accounting, consulting, design and other business services.

Professional service firms will need to respond in two ways: 1. Enhance their business value proposition – through innovation – so that customers are less price-sensitive and 2. Reduce costs where possible. This article focuses on how service firms can reduce costs through the intelligent targeting of waste.

Use a magnifying glass – not an axe – for cost reduction

Conventional approaches to cost reduction in professional service firms – sweeping the ‘axe’ of redundancies – risk cutting away core value-adding activities in the business along with any ‘fat’. A better approach is to apply the ‘magnifying glass’ to seek out wastes in service delivery and then eliminate them using Lean principles.

By reducing the costs associated with waste activities, cost reduction goals can be met without impacting the service and value delivered to clients. Indeed the opposite is typically the case – with a more streamlined and systematic way of working delivering a more responsive and consistent service to clients.

In our work with professional service firms over the last decade
we’ve found that service re-engineering typically reduces the cost
of service delivery by between 25-50% whilst maintaining service quality.

There are three key steps required in achieving waste elimination in service delivery:

  • Find wastes.
  • Remove wastes.
  • Stop wastes returning!

Find wastes

Wastes are activities that do not add value – and so professional time spent performing such work can be eliminated without impacting the service to the client – whilst reducing the cost of delivery. The key approaches that are effective in doing this are:

  • Find a Champion – a Partner or Manager to lead the work
  • Engage fee earners – who know how work is actually performed today
  • Understand the client requirements – what’s important to them, today’s service experience
  • Map the service – create a picture of the end-to-end service as it is today
  • Apply Lean techniques – to identify waste and inefficiency

Waste elimination means that service costs
can be reduced without lowering quality.

Remove wastes

The key steps to be followed in removing waste from a service are:

  • Re-engineer the service using a TO-BE design that provides a more efficient and controlled service – making use of procedures, templates and workflow.
  • This reduces service delivery costs in two ways: (1) Reducing the fee earner time required to perform the service and (2) Performing the work using a lower cost blend of personnel (i.e. work pushed down to more junior and less expensive personnel) or automating it. Our work on service re-engineering over the past decade has shown that typically 25-50% of this cost can be removed.
  • Maintain service quality by placing work elements at the skill level at which it can be performed at least to the same level of quality as before (through use of codification into procedures and templates and then personnel trained to these methods). In our experience service quality and responsiveness is actually improved post re-engineering.
  • Use the freed up personnel to perform other work (thus yielding cost avoidance) or made redundant (yielding cost reduction).
  • Generate new revenue using experienced personnel who have been freed up by re-engineering, to work on more complex and higher margin work – if the firm had opportunities which would have needed new hires to meet.

Stop wastes returning!

It is important in a people-based business to ensure that costs don’t ‘drift back’, especially into the delivery of fee earning work. This is why new working methods need to be supported by standardisation of repetitive work elements, making use of procedures and templates. Case Management and workflow systems can help ‘lock in’ new procedures. New metrics should be put in place to monitor time spent on matters by work element and fee earner type – to both ensure that target times are being met and also to support continuous improvement.

Conclusions

A waste-focused approach to reducing service costs in professional service firms is powerful in enabling services to be delivered at a lower cost and at least equal quality and service as before. This is not the case with the more typical people-focused redundancy approach – which can significantly impact clients through reduced service quality.

Lean-based cost reduction is a powerful approach
that is seldom used effectively in professional service firms.

One key reason for this is that few of these firms have ‘process-thinking’ in place to enable process-based improvement. This is changing with the increasingly competitive landscape for services and the accelerating use of IT and the internet for digital services delivery.

Firms should seize this approach and make it part
of their ‘transformation toolbox’ to enable a successful
response to the business challenges of Brexit.

Energizing Change

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