Tutorials and resources for proposal writing and business development

The Performance Improvement Model

The Performance Improvement Model for Business Development (PIM/BD) provides a framework for designing a integrated program for improving an organization's ability to perform business development. When people decide they need to improve their business development efforts, they often:

  • Implement a new process
  • Implement an internal training program
  • Send some of there staff out for training
  • Hire new staff

Usually, they achieve mixed results because they have addressed only part of the problem. The maximum increase in performance comes from an integrated approach that addresses skills, knowledge, process, and tools. A combination of approaches can be taken to boost skills, increase knowledge or make it more accessible, improve processes, and develop tools. Implementation can focus on one or all of these, be managed at the group or enterprise level, and entail a mixture of internal and external resources.

This may sound complex, but it simply reflects and integrates the things people normally do to improve business development. They use different approaches to address different needs, and use a combination of resources since complete outsourcing is rarely an option. One major benefit of using the PIM/BD is that it provides means to respond to multiple issues by using a mixture of approaches. This reflects the real world of business development, where an organization's current state is a complex blend of good and bad, with improvement in one area often inter-dependent on improvement in another. It also takes into account that practical and effective solutions often involve a mixture of approaches: instructor-led training, web-based training, use of consultants, use of internal staff, train-the-trainer, and more. The PIM/BD, which provides the framework for an integrated approach to improving an organizations business development performance, is organized into four components:

  • Targets for Enhancement. What are you trying to improve?
  • Approaches to Improvement. Which types of training and methods for performance enhancement are applicable?
  • Implementation Models. What is the scope of the implementation effort?
  • Feedback. How do you measure results and continuously improve?

    These four components are integrated and in effect tell you what to do, how to do it, and where to do it. In addition, the PIM/BD model incorporates a mechanism for continuous improvement. This is important, since improving business development is not a one-time exercise. You can never be "good-enough" when it comes to your ability to develop business. Once you attain a certain proficiency, it is time to look for ways to take it to the next level. The PIM/BD model helps focus your attention and efforts each time you go through an enhancement cycle.

    The Targets for Enhancement component addresses what you seek to enhance in order to improve your business development performance. Targets may include one or more of the following:

    • Awareness, Knowledge, and Information. Do your staff know what they need to and have access to the information they need to do their jobs?
    • Skills and Capabilities. Are they capable of executing the work? Do they need to enhance their skills to perform better?
    • Process. Are their efforts being coordinated and guided effectively?
    • Tools, Job-Aids, and Resources. Can performance be enhanced through tools that provide guidance, accessibility, or automation?

    The Approaches to Improvement component addresses the methods and techniques for bringing about the improvement. The approaches may include one or more of the following:

    • Instructor-led Training. The most effective for interaction, but also the most expensive and time consuming.
    • Online Training. Not as interactive as instructor-led, but easier to deploy enterprise-wide, especially with on-site project staff.
    • Tutorials and Manuals. Written materials for learning and reference.
    • Checklists, Templates, and Process Job-Aids. To build guidance and process into the tools used for execution.
    • Coaching and Facilitation. A blend of training and execution that maximizes the use of your internal resources, while supplementing them with senior expertise.
    • Train-the-Trainer. Extends the reach of an internal training program by training key people to deliver course presentations and materials.

    Implementation can be performed at the enterprise level, group level, or even individual level. It may rely on internal or external resources, with a blend being most common. In a process-centric or tools-focused implementation, there may be considerable development and change management involved. Implementation can involve one or more of the following.

    • Enterprise Development. Boosting the performance of the entire enterprise as part of a major initiative.
    • Group Development. Boosting the performance of a group within the enterprise.
    • Individual Development. Boosting the performance of specific key individuals.
    • Performance Remediation. Supplementing internal resources with external resources, usually consultants.
    • Process Assessment and Development. Full lifecycle support for process implementation.
    • Infrastructure Assessment and Development. Full lifecycle support for the implementation of the tools and organizational elements required for a business development function.

    The final component for the PIM/BD model is Feedback, which provides the mechanism for continuous improvement. Feedback elements include:

    • Measurements. The bottom line for a business development improvement program is the change in revenue and profitability. However, pipeline analysis and other measurements can help you evaluate the success of your program well before it impacts your bottom line.
    • Assessments. Subjective and objective evaluations of progress and results. These generally take the form of reviews and surveys.
    • Lessons Learned. Identification, retention, and application of lessons derived from experience.
    • Reporting. Executives, accountants, and others often have most of their interaction with the business development function in the form of reports. Properly designed, these reports will provide the data needed for ongoing assessment of progress and performance.

    Each of these kinds of feedback should be used to refine how you have implemented the PIM/BD model, as well as to guide your decisions for future enhancements.

    By addressing the elements in each component of the PIM/BD, your efforts to improve business development performance will be far more comprehensive and much better integrated than if you simply focused on the point where you feel the most pain.

    By Carl Dickson,
    Founder of and PropLIBRARY

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