How do you make your company competitive

If you are to be competitive, your goods and services must be better than those of the competition on one or more of:

� availability

� functionality

� price

� quality

� reliability

� style

(and of course, your potential customers must be aware of those advantages).

Some of these factors are directly related to the product (or service) and its design � its fitness for purpose (in terms of whether it does what the customer wants) and its aesthetics and desirability. Others are more related to the way in which it is produced/delivered � the process.

What the customer does is to make a judgement on whether the product or service offers �value for money� in comparison to competing offerings.

The technique or approach known as value engineering recognises this by discussing two components of value � functional value and esteem value �. does the product offer the functionality required by the customer and does it add anything else in terms of style, fashion or other attributes of desirability.

Increasing these two components of value requires a fundamental review of the design of the offering (and perhaps the way in which the product or service is marketed). Then to ensure you produce and deliver the product to customers in the most effective � and cost-effective way � you need a review of the various processes involved in this production/delivery process.

Ideally, you should have the most desirable product or service to meet the needs (and wants) of your target market and you should produce it in the most efficient manner so that you can � if you so choose � offer it to customers at an advantageous price � and deliver it to customers as quickly as possible.

Of course with different products and services, various elements of this �mix� might not be as important as with others. If you are selling fresh fruit and vegetables, attributes like �style� may be irrelevant � though it is true that certain fruits and vegetables do become �fashionable�. And you certainly need to ensure that your processes help you deliver competitive products � by getting the produce to customers swiftly and in good condition.

Similar issues apply if you are �delivering� mortgages or other financial services to clients � at first thought not the most �fashionable� of �products� � but again mortgages have been re-designed many times over the last 10 or 20 years to make them particularly attractive to specific groups of potential clients.

So, innovation in product development and design gets you into new markets and helps you be competitive � perhaps by giving you �first mover� status when no-one else has yet developed a similar product; perhaps by making your offering more attractive to customers than those of our competitors.

And innovation in process design can help you compete on availability, quality and cost. (See the article on �There is always a better way�)


Productivity is my 'bag' ... it is what I know about. I am President of the World Confederation of Productivity Science - and Director of the National Productivity Centre in the UK - go to this site for some good free resources and some (paid for but low price) e-learning on productivity. I also edit the International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management. My views on productivity and on learning (which I think are related) are su...

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