Overview of Step 3a – Enter your products
In this step you need to fill in the products offered by your organisation. In the next steps these will be mapped against your IT systems to highlight the relationship between products, processes and systems.
How to use the screen
- A product belongs to a Product Category, and can be described in more detail in its Sub Categories.
- You will enter your products starting with their broader category, in the blue area, and then you will enter their sub categories.
- Any product can be deleted by clicking on the red x next to it.
- If you need to enter more products, click on Add Column and a blank new product group will appear.
- Once all your products have been entered click Save & Continue.
Product Category: a group of products with a similar theme or function.
Sub-Category: a type of business service or offering provided to customers of the organisation.
For more details see the Glossary.
Why does Strategy4IT need the structure of your organisation?
Every company has a number of key dimensions which they can use to measure themselves. For IT, the most critical is the process dimension that you entered at step 2 in our workflow. However, in order to map the information further we also need details about your organisational structure. We have chosen the three most common organisational dimensions on which to structure the information about your firm for Strategy4IT’s reports. These are: products, locations and business units. We use this information in our method and reports to map and show your entire IT usage. By comparing how an IT service is used on different dimensions it is possible to identify excess complexity and opportunities to save money.
What if I only have one product, location or business unit?
Some organisations may only require two of these dimensions in order to review their IT landscape but most will apply to all our customers. It is possible that an organisation has many products covered and supported by several departments or business units , but operates from only one location. Likewise, it is also possible that one product is delivered from many locations with the support of multiple departments or business units. This is not a problem, you can enter just one item and ignore this dimension for the reporting; it will still be valuable to compare the other two when defining your assessment.
What is a product and how do I compile my list?
Think about what your organisation delivers to a customer. Most likely this is a form of physical goods made or acquired and then sold to a customer, such as printers, toys, or shirts. Alternatively, it may be a service provided by people such as training, travel booking or consulting. It could also be a form service that is provided as opposed to a physical object, such as insurance, restaurant booking services or a data download. Whatever the nature of the service that you provide to the customer, it is valid for entry in Strategy4IT.
We recommend that you start by compiling a list on paper, grouping the goods and services you provide to customers together into like groups. When you are compiling this list try and aim for a maximum of 16 to 20 items, although bear in mind the trial version restricts you to less than this and the professional version allows you a maximum of 32. We have chosen this maximum because inputting more than 20 items will mean the results will prove difficult to interpret, and if 32 must be entered, they will spread across too many pages to be easily comprehensible on the reports.
When choosing your products try and think about how your customer perceives you and not how you deliver the good and services from your side. Only once you have looked at the customer aspect should you think about your supply chain view. What are your brands? How does your customer select your services? Try not to replicate your organisation structure unless it is strictly aligned to the underlying products, goods or services you supply. If you supply a lot of different products, think about the product groupings and how they are distinguished by either your customer or the supply chain. For example, a food retailer may store over 15,000 types of food but only the big categories, such as dry goods, frozen food etc. are relevant in this case.
Do you have some examples that can help me structure my list?
We can give you two examples to help you with your structure. Let us consider a service based company such as a travel agent, and a physical good supplier such as a clothing retailer.
The travel agent has a number of brochure categories and this will be how the customer perceives them. They will also offer subsidiary services like hotel and flight booking or insurance. Their supply chain is clearly orientated around the underlying components offered: flights, hotels, villas/chalets, car hire, ground transport, equipment hire (e.g. skis), excursions and insurance. On the other hand, their customers and their channels to market will be orientated to the different market segments such as Summer Sun, Winter Ski, Tours, Cruises etc. There is a clear choice to make here between customer channel or brand versus supply chain view, and we would usually recommend taking a customer view towards the products as the best starting choice.
In this case we can imagine something akin to the following groupings:
The clothing retailer in our example operates in two different small chains of high street shops and also has a series of concessions in larger department stores. In addition, they also have a separate dry cleaning business that was recently acquired and is being added to the portfolio. In this case the company has over 1,000 different products sold in their catalogue but the ones relevant for Strategy4IT are the product lines within the stores. In this case it is important to choose sensible groupings for the items. For example, are designer shoes different to basic fashion shoes, are made-to-measure suits different from off the peg. It is also important to consider the services that go alongside the purchases, for example in this case we should include alterations and changes to items as a separate product.
1) How many products can I enter?
This depends on your price plan – 9 for the trial version or 32 for the professional version. We advise to keep the total number under 20 for readability of the results.
2) I have too many products for my plan, what can I do?
If you are on the trial version please upgrade to the full professional version to receive more space for entry. If you are already on the professional version then you can consider grouping minor products together. For example, grouping ‘hotel’ and ‘guest house’ together as ‘accommodation booking’ (as in our example). If this is proving difficult then please contact us and one of our consultants will be available to guide you through the process.
3) How many product groups can I have?
Products are available as groups. You may find one group is all you need if you are a smaller firm; a larger one in the extreme can have as many as eight or more groups. The only restriction is on the total number of products you can enter.
4) I only have one product, what can I do?
If you are a very small company or a single product firm then you can still benefit from the added dimensions on location and business unit in our full professional version, if you are using the trial version then upgrade now.
5) When I added/amended the product group, why did the first line change?
We have a speed entry feature that means when you enter a group name the first product is defaulted to the same name. You can just type over the first product if you wish to change it.
6) I want to delete a product I have already entered and mapped later in the process – can I do this?
You can delete a product by clicking on the red cross next to it, but any mapping data entered in step 5 will be lost when you press save.
7) I want to reorder the list – can I do this?
If you have not passed step 5 or are still on the first stage of entry, you can just re-type the list to reorder. Once you have passed step 5, mapping the systems to the products, it is difficult to reorder the list in this version of Strategy4IT without deleting and re-entering all products in a category. However, we will be adding a reorder feature to a future release of the tool.