While it’s easy to identify the problems within some businesses, uncovering others remains a bit of a challenge.
Regardless of how many years you attended school or how skilled you are at your job, business consultants know that the process is not always a piece of cake. If you have been called in by a business owner or executive, it is normally because unidentified issues are wreaking havoc within the structure or sales of the company.
Even if you sport a list of successes a mile long, the possibility remains that you will eventually be stumped by a business’ situation. So, where do you start when you need to locate the problems faced by a company?
Finding the Issues
One particularly useful approach is that of a GAP analysis. This type of assessment allows you to compare the current status of a company with its actual capabilities, helping to highlight any areas that may be lacking.
Commonly included in a GAP analysis are the questions “Where are we?” and “Where do we want to be?” because they best represent the task at hand. It’s then your job to connect the dots and find out what’s missing for your client to get from the Issue to the Desired Outcome.
By taking a look at the existing state of a business and creating a list of goals to work towards, any obstacles existing between the two may be spotted much easier and faster than through research alone.
Putting it in Perspective
Let’s say you’ve been hired by a juice company to examine their latest sales figures. According to the business owner, peach and orange juice sales remain steady, but fruit punch numbers are quickly dropping.
The owner is puzzled, particularly since fruit punch has traditionally provided the company’s largest source of revenue. Looking at the process, you can’t seem to put your finger on the problem – production and delivery are operating smoothly and customers continue to rave about the quality and flavour.
The company’s president has indicated that they want to double their fruit punch sales by the end of the fiscal year and it is your job to figure out how.
As you work through the GAP analysis, you start to notice a pattern. While reviewing the figures from the previous year, you realize that one grocery store chain has failed to report any fruit punch sales within the past six months. You explore the issue further and determine that although the stores have been ordering fruit punch, they have only been receiving peach and orange flavours. You also uncover a communications flaw, since the grocery chain has been contacting the juice company for months without a response.
Versatility Saves the Day
The great thing about a GAP analysis is that it can be used for any size business within any industry.
Take the assessment performed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development with regard to coffee production. By examining the sector in an attempt to appreciate producer demands, the GAP analysis showed that chemical storage facilities, safety equipment and drinking water were among the areas that required significant improvement.
In addition, the study confirmed that the per unit cost in one country was a great deal higher than that of other farming areas, producing the need for new strategies to reduce the costs for the struggling producers.
If you are working tirelessly to find the source of obstacles within a business, a GAP analysis will likely bring you closer to the finish line.
In fact, this type of assessment can play an integral role in the development and growth of any company, so be sure to include it as part of your regular routine. Smart tools like the GAP analysis assume some of the burden and stress that can weigh heavily on business consultants.