Widget World designs, produces, and sells widgets. It has a dedicated, distributed sales staff that scours the globe attending the latest widget conventions, approaching widget-friendly businesses, engages in old-fashioned cold-calling, and creates a grassroots suburban Widget Ware sales-party network.
Widget World is also the victim of its own success. As is true of many businesses, it has not planned for double-digit growth and is failing to keep its sales force supplied with information about sales opportunities and the latest in widget technology, and it's not managing to obtain quick and timely feedback from the sales staff in order to capitalize on trends in widget fashion.
Widget World cannot hire enough summer interns to work the phones and fax to keep the widgets flowing. The Widget Master is well aware that Widget World needs to be more efficient; therefore, after looking at commercial offerings, the Widget Master has decided to commission the writing of specialized software called the Widget World Sales Force Automation Tool, or WW-SFAT for short.
Although the Widget Master holds the purse strings, she utilizes the Widget Marketing department to forecast the latest trends, which in turn helps plan the road map of Widget World.
The Widget Marketers depend upon the Regional Widget Sales Managers (both Eastern and Western) to keep them supplied with up-to-date information. Widget Marketers also let the managers know about the pricing of widgets in reference to their competitors.
The Regional Widget Sales Managers reward and motivate their widget sales personnel by supplying them with timely information regarding widget hot spots. They also set quotas, cut bonus checks, and make sure that all salespeople are doing their best to put a Widget on every desktop.
Widget World Sales Force Automation Tool Manager is a newly created position with input from both Widget Marketing and Regional Widget Managers and is charged with creating a process as well as accompanying software to solve the problem of automating the streamlining of the Widget World sales force's daily operating procedures.. The WW-SFAT Manager is also given significant yet crucial power of "stopping the buck" whatever the WW-SFAT Manager decides goes. This power is critical to the success of the project because it limits the number of meetings and documentation required. The WW-SFAT Manager is also dedicated to working closely with you on this project. Because you know nothing of widgets or sales and you are charged with streamlining the Widget World sales force's existing paper-based phone and fax system of tracking salespeople and contacts, you have a million questions. Figure 18-1 shows the current tracking form in use.
Here are a few questions that might occur to you:
"Do you want to see the time in 12- or 24 hour format?"
"Time-zones, do they matter?"
"When should X's report be submitted by?"
"What happens if X's report is NOT in by the required date?"
"How are expenses reimbursed?"
"How often does the federal mileage reimbursement change?"
"Does the federal mileage reimbursement need to be historical? Retroactive?"