In Dr Stephen Covey’s landmark bestselling book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, habit number 2 is “Begin with the End in Mind”. Never has this been truer that in creating easy to use, well designed Concerto models. Unlike Excel or Word staring in the top left corner and racing to the end does not work in the Concerto model builder. It is far more effective to start with what you want to achieve (the problem or opportunity) and then make a design to achieve that “end”.
Having designed dozens of models for customers, partners and for internal use I would like to share with you an approach and some considerations before you leap into the Concerto Modeller. While everybody develops their own approach over time, this should get you further faster.
Before you start building your Concerto model
Step One: What problem or opportunity am I trying to answer? In management consulting or business analysis this would be called the problem statement. Given the flexibility of the Concerto software your problem statement might be based on improving operational transparency, or identification of business improvement projects, or implementation of Lean management in the organisation, or evaluation of strategic market opportunity, or best business forecasting. Some projects might be solving several of these problems at the same time.
Where you have multiple stakeholders involved a clear shared understanding of the problem statement or opportunity is important to avoid conflict and create ownership of the final models. If you can write it down in a couple of sentences all the better.
Step Two: What are the key metrics that will need to be in the model? KPIs can be very specific both in definition and units. For example, they might refer to financial metrics, operational performance ratios, capacities of processes, or relate to constraints in an operational system. Listing the key metrics is also important because these are likely to be values who want to display on Concerto scorecards.
Step Three: Who are the users going to be? User requirements need to be considered if you are not the only person who is going to be interacting with the model you are building. As models are often used by senior managers, line managers and superintendents they all have different KPIs and want to see different scorecards, dashboards and driver trees. This impacts on the way you might want to divide up and bolt together models.
Step Four: Fill out the design by determine the high level design elements. This includes:
- Time period/s
- Key figures and attributes
- Constraints, if any
- Traffic light parameters
The modeller leads through this process but I find it best to have the design specified beforehand. That way working through the modeller tabs is faster with less stopping and starting.
Step Five: Map out the design on paper or in a drawing package. This will before your roadmap for building the Concerto models. An example, in Powerpoint is shown below. Now you are ready to start modelling in Concerto.
One final point: An important learning from years of model building is don’t start with the data. Don’t get me wrong you are going to what to fill your Concerto models with data. But starting with the data can lead to issues about data quality and getting bogged down in data preparation or worse some data collection and storage project that leads you further away from the problem or opportunity you are trying to understand. This is not going to lead to a good business outcome. The best approach is build the model first (at least a skeleton of it) then look for the data.
For example, several years ago on a Lean business improvement project, Concerto was used to analyse the non-value add time of office based workers. The company want to take on more work from their customers without increasing the size of their workforce and renting more office space.
A Concerto Lean model was built which calculated the non-value add time. When it came time to fill the model with data it turned out that no time data for the office workers was being collected. So the staff were asked to keep detailed work diaries for a week. This data was used to populate the Concerto model. The result was very successful with a number of projects identified to enable the employees to be more productive and complete more customer work. The project illustrated that data is not always available and collecting it can be very straight forward without “boiling the ocean”.
Stephen Willams is co-owner and CEO of Concerto Analytics, a technology company that improves their clients business performance. His blogs cover a wide range of topics from software to organisational business dynamics and relationship management.