* Review and document how processes currently work
* Why do you think there's a problem (identify potential causes: who, what, why, where, how)
* State the problem as clearly as possible
Business Problem Statement Example
Problem Statement: Intensive manual processing due to physical handling of paperwork.
Description: Annual leave forms are typically filled out by the Employee, printed, sent to the Manager/Delegate for approval, sent to Human Resources for verification and data entry, scanned and uploaded to the EDRMS, and then sent to Payroll for (re) data entry.
Risk: This highly manual scenario leads to ‘bottlenecks’ in service delivery and promotes the risk of poor organisational response to business and lost time that should be spent carrying out core business.
* Get input from people who are affected by the problem
* Write down opinions and observations of people affected by the problem
* Consider all potential causes of the problem: competition, business model, market factors, team performance, etc.
* If needed, conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
* Employ research tools, such as information sources, databases, surveys, and interviews for fact finding, data gathering and analysis, etc.
Example of a SWOT ANALYSIS
SOURCE: Cisco Systems, Inc. SWOT Analysis; Date: October 26, 2020
|SOME FRAMEWORKS TO HELP YOU ANALYZE THE PROBLEM|
Porter's Five Forces
The 3 Cs
The 4 Ps
SOURCE and for additional information on analysis frameworks and more, please go to: STREETOFWALLS
Postpone the selection of one solution until several problem-solving alternatives have been proposed. Considering multiple alternatives can significantly enhance the value of your ideal solution. Once you have decided on the "what should be" model, this target standard becomes the basis for developing a road map for investigating alternatives. Brainstorming and team problem-solving techniques are both useful tools in this stage of problem solving.
Many alternative solutions to the problem should be generated before final evaluation. A common mistake in problem solving is that alternatives are evaluated as they are proposed, so the first acceptable solution is chosen, even if it’s not the best fit. If we focus on trying to get the results we want, we miss the potential for learning something new that will allow for real improvement in the problem-solving process.
Characteristics of Good Alternatives
Value-Focused -- meaning that they are explicitly designed to address the fundamental values or ends of the decision – the “things that matter” or “felt needs”, as defined by the objectives and the evaluation criteria;
Technically Sound -- meaning that in developing alternatives for achieving the objectives, the project team has drawn on the best available information about cause and effect relationships and has designed creative and diverse alternatives based on sound analysis;
Clearly and Consistently Defined -- meaning that all alternatives are defined to a sufficient and consistent level of detail using logically consistent assumptions, and that a base case against which all alternatives can be compared has been clearly established;
Small in number and high in quality -- meaning that poor (dominated) alternatives have been eliminated and those remaining have been iteratively refined to incorporate new ideas and joint gains;
Comprehensive and mutually exclusive -- meaning that individual elements or components of a strategy are combined into complete packages, and that the packages are directly comparable;
Able to expose fundamental trade-offs -- meaning that they emphasize rather than hide difficult but unavoidable value-based trade-offs and present real choices for decision makers;
Developed collaboratively with the people most affected -- because difficult trade-offs are easier to make and to accept when people believe that a thorough search for good alternatives has been conducted and that the best alternatives are on the table.
THE KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE DECIDING ON A SOLUTION TO IMPLEMENT
It goes without saying that some of these questions may not be applicable to every type of solution you’re considering and should be therefore be used as a generic guide.
How will you know your problem is solved? And not just the symptom -- how will you know when you've addressed the underlying issues? Before you dive into enacting the solution, make sure you know what success looks like.
Decide on a few key performance indicators. Take a baseline measurement, and set a goal and a timeframe. You're essentially translating your solution into a plan, complete with milestones and goals. Without these, you've simply made a blind decision, with no way to track success. You need those goals and milestones to make your plan real.
The key to effective problem-solving in business is the ability to adapt. You can waste a lot of resources on staying the wrong course for too long. So make a plan to reduce your risk now. Think about what you'd do if you were faced with a problem large enough to sink your business. Be as proactive as you be.
10 CRITERIA TO CONSIDER WHEN DESIGNING
KEY PERFORMANCE MEASURES
Consider this list of criteria when building out your key business performance measurement systems:
"When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions." -- Steve Jobs
|CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING A CREATIVE SOLUTION|
TO FIND SAMPLE SWOT ANALYSES, AND
COMPETITIVE INFORMATION ON
COMPANIES AND PRODUCTS
Business Insights: Essentials -- Provides in depth coverage of businesses, including company profiles, industry profiles, products and brands, financial reports, company rankings, histories and full text periodical articles.
Plunkett Research Online -- Contains industry and market research trends and statistics on many major industries, as well as company contacts, organizations, and more.
EBSCOHost -- Provides access to over 30 databases with citations, abstracts and selected full-text.
S&P Capital IQ (Standard and Poor's Capital IQ) -- Provides in-depth financial information on companies, industry reports, equities, and more. Includes publications: S&P Analysts Handbook, S&P Bond Guide, S&P Corporation Records, S&P Stock Reports, Stovall Sectors.
TO FIND INFORMATION ON MARKETS AND INDUSTRIES
IBISWorld -- IBISWorld is the largest collection of industry and market research including specialized industries for small business research.
First Research -- Industry profiles include industry overview, recent developments, business challenges, trends and opportunities, executive insight,call preparation questions, financial and industry ratio's, industry forecast, web links and acronyms.
e-Marketer -- Market research reports, data, charts, about anything "e":e-commerce, internet, social media, digital, technology use and adoption,online advertising, mobile, marketing, demographics and more. eMarketer aggregates and analyzes research from 1,700+ sources and produces analyst reports, statistics, and and charting features.
TO FIND DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
Mergent Intellect -- Mergent Intellect is an expansive directory database that includes more than 100 million private US, Canadian and global businesses, more than 6000 US public companies and over 200 million residents and local businesses, with previous addresses and allowing for reverse telephone lookups.
TO FIND ARTICLES ON HUMAN RESOURCES, MANAGEMENT, MARKETING, AND MORE
EBSCOHost -- Provides access to over 30 databases with citations, abstracts and selected full-text. Includes Academic Search Premier, Business Source Complete and other subject-specific resources.
Business Source Complete -- The Business Source Complete database includes full text business journals and magazines, covering all disciplines of business, including marketing, management, accounting, banking, finance and more.
TO FIND GLOBAL INFORMATION
lynda.com -- Lynda.com, a LinkedIn Company is an online educational site that includes over 5,700 courses (and over 180,000 videos) in popular fields like web design, web development, IT, education/instruction, media production, and business. Experts create and deliver all courses as well as provide supplemental materials like exercise files and relevant work samples. Users will need to create accounts in order to track course progress, create playlists of potential coursework, and keep course notes.
FOR REVIEWS ON FEE-BASED AND FREE SURVEYS
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The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus; Roman Tschappeler
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This updated edition of the international bestseller distills into a single volume the fifty best decision-making models used in MBA courses, and elsewhere, that will help you tackle these important questions. In minutes you can become conversant with: The Long Tail * The Maslow Pyramids * SWOT Analysis * The Rubber Band Model * The Prisoner's Dilemma * Cognitive Dissonance * The Eisenhower Matrix * Conflict Resolution * Flow * The Personal Potential Trap * and many more. Stylish and compact, this little book is a powerful asset.
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