Making Your College Research BSC Certified

The balanced scorecard (BSC) is a fundamental tool that is used to determine the performance levels of organizations in terms of aspect-level management and how everything works together as a whole. This can also be used for college research. The BSC finds application in almost every activity that requires management activity, including schoolwork. Thus, the logic behind the existence of the college research BSC.

The balanced scorecard, as an evaluation tool, takes note of the different aspects of the management of the organization in order to determine their respective efficiency and productivity levels. These are lumped into one report, which will determine how the organization is performing. This way, the evaluator can see which aspect of the organization needs improvement and which aspect of the organization is performing well.

A college project can also be seen in another light as a sort of organizational activity. This is because of the fact that like an organization, making a college research project involves performing a variety of functions and activities in order to come up with the conclusion and recommendation. How this conclusion and recommendation is produced will depend on how efficient the process of data gathering and analysis is conducted.

This evaluation tool can be used by an experienced user in making sure that the project is carried out smoothly and efficiently by making up metrics representing the goals and objectives that must be reached with the project. This would find particular application when the college research project is to be accomplished by a group and not an individual. This way, even the performance of each group member, with the satisfaction of the professor or facilitator rather than the consumer being in mind, will be effectively and properly monitored by the group leader or by a third person tasked to do the job.

In every piece of work, efficiency and productivity are always the top factors that will determine its quality. Thus, if the various aspects and steps of making a simple college research project are equally efficient and productive, then it can be guaranteed with confidence that the resulting research project will be efficiently and properly done. Anyone can rely on the fact that the conclusion has been arrived in through an efficient and responsible process that ensures the accuracy of the data used. They can also rely on the fact that the recommendation is properly and carefully constructed for improvement on the research project and the research topic as a whole.

In making your college research BSC certified, you are in fact making sure that your research project is made with the best quality materials and processes. The efficiency of each research aspect and production step is ensured by reason of the use of this evaluation tool. Also, the data that is conveyed to the end readers is guaranteed to be accurate, relevant, and complete. This end result is indeed a more desirable one than a result that is obtained through the use of crude and inefficient methods. Using the balanced scorecard for your college research is a great way to get a higher grade and a better performance record.

A website like http://www.adventuredalat.com will provide you with the highest quality in the industry.

The Art of Listening – Market Research Tools That Any Company Can Use

For thousands of years, people have conducted market research. I don’t mean with fancy focus groups or complicated conjoint analysis, but just by asking questions and listening to the answers. Using this art of listening is so crucial to the success of your company’s marketing, that to deny it is to invite failure. Follow along as I show you how to use marketing research to funnel knowledge into your marketing programs.

Why research is so important

In the early 1990s when I started my own consulting business, I conducted my own little research survey. I wrote on a piece of paper a 100 word description of what my consulting practice would look like that included 1) The target audience for the practice 2) What these buyers wanted from a consultant and 3) How my practice would be different from others.

Then, I set up coffee appointments with 20 business leaders, and put this written description in front of them. After asking for their feedback, I sat back and listened.
Their advice was invaluable. I learned that my positioning, focusing on growing companies without an in-house marketing department, was on target (it remains my positioning today). I also learned that clients like these were less interested in hearing about my Fortune 500 work experience and more interested in knowing how I would help organizations their size.

Because of this research, I believe my company’s marketing ended up being more focused and targeted.

Research can also perfect products

A short while ago, I worked with a major company that was launching a brand new zero-turn radius riding mower. New to this market, the company and I wanted to perfect the product’s design before launching so we organized a series of consumer focus groups. Up to this point, I had been working with the internal design team to develop a product prototype. We were supremely confident that we had designed the right product for the market, and saw the research as a mere rubber stamp for the design. However, when we showed the prototype to the focus group participants, we were shocked by their reaction. Almost every single participant didn’t care for the front end design. “Flimsy” and “breakable” were two words that we heard often, and words that clearly didn’t support the brand’s positioning.

During the next week, we scrambled to redesign the front end and hastily organized a series of one-on-one research interviews with these same participants to get feedback on the new design. In the end, they loved it and, as of this writing, the product has been launched successfully and has contributed significant, incremental revenue to the company. But I shudder to think what might have happened if we had launched the product in its original design, without this research. I’m convinced the product would have bombed, costing the company millions of dollars and tarnishing its reputation.

Research can deepen relationships

Whatever the size of your company, you’ll find that research strengthens the bonds between your company and its buyers. The bottom line is: people like it when you ask for their opinion. Not only will they feel they are contributing to your company’s success, but you’ll learn more about their perceptions of:

* Your company identity

*Your competitors

* New markets and products for your company

Research firm TARP has found that for every person that complains, 26 others don’t. So, if 10 customers have complained recently to your company, another 260 may have held their tongues while turning to your competitors. Properly conducted research many times acts as a feedback machine designed to root out these people’s thoughts.

Other important research payoffs

* Research can reestablish dialogues with long-lost customers – Sometimes a survey is all that is needed to reestablish a dialogue between a company and a customer that feels ignored.

* Research gives people a chance to vent – Sometimes people just want to air out their feelings. This doesn’t mean they will abandon you or your company. To the contrary, they may respect you more for giving them the chance.

* Research can find new growth opportunities right under your nose – A client of mine in the healthcare data industry told me a great story about his company’s market research. It seemed that several years ago, his half million dollar company decided to survey its customers. One of the questions it asked was, “What new products would you like to see us offer?” Of the 90 responses it received, an overwhelming number said they would like to see the company offer market share data. The company moved quickly and within less than a year began offering market share data. The result? His business more than quadrupled over the next two years.

* Research can increase awareness of ancillary products – Good surveys not only collect data, but disseminate information. As long as it is handled tastefully, you can educate consumers about your company’s new products or services with a survey.

* Research can sometimes reactivate dormant customers – I once helped an industrial services client survey its past customers, ones it hadn’t heard from in over a year. After asking for their feedback on the previous work, we included the following question: “Do you know of anyone, in your company or outside of it, who could benefit from the services XYZ provides?”

The response was overwhelming. In the end, the survey generated over $700,000 in sales from both active and dormant accounts.

The best low-cost market research tools

* One-on-one interviews- This is one of my favorite research techniques. In it, you (or better yet, an outside consultant) speaks directly with your company’s customers, one at a time. Via phone or in-person, you walk the respondent through a standard questionnaire. Each respondent is asked the same questions and the interviews are designed to take less than 30 minutes each.
Here are some questions I like to use in these interviews:

* At that time, why did you become a customer of our company?

* With respect to (your industry) what are your biggest challenges you face?

* How did you first learn about our company?

* How does our company help you with these challenges?

* Who are our biggest competitors that you deal with? What are their strengths & weaknesses?

* What are our greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

* What do we do that no one else does in the market?

* What other capabilities or services would you like to see XYZ offer?

* Which of our competitors do the best job of marketing?

* Post purchase surveys – To keep the lines of communication open between you and your customers, administer a quick customer satisfaction survey right after delivering your product or service. It will help your company keep tabs on how well you’re doing with your customers, and can also head off potential problems. Given everyone’s preoccupation with time, I limit my company’s survey to one page. It’s a fax-back survey with just five questions, and 90 percent of all surveys are returned.
Here are some questions that can be used in a survey like this:

-What one thing did you like about doing business with us?

-What one thing would you change about our company?

-When you bought our product, what did you really end up with?

-On a scale of 1 to 10, please rate us on the job we did for you.

-What would it take for you to stay with us for five years?

* Networking–These days networking gets a lot of attention as a lead generation device, but I also see networking as a market research vehicle. Next time you, or someone from your sales organization, sets up a networking meeting, identify one piece of research information you’d like to obtain. It could be something about your major competitor (e.g., What do you know about XYZ Company?) or something about your typical customer behavior (e.g., What additional services do you see customers in our market needing?) Gathering vital research information can sometimes be as cheap as a cup of coffee.

* Blogs – Blogs are a great way to encourage dialogues with your market. Savvy marketers are now using blogs to:

-Elicit instant feedback from customers

-Have simultaneous conversations with customers and prospects and

-Facilitate the spread of buzz about your company.

Ever since starting my blog (www.emergemarketing.com/blog), I’ve noticed that it serves as a useful feedback device. I hear from experts far and wide, and dialogues can sometimes break out between them with me as the moderator. If you’re interested in starting a blog, visit http://www.typepad.com/ or http://www.blogger.com/ .

* Customer Clubs – When I was the marketing director at a mattress manufacturer, each quarter we’d host an informal conversation with our customers. We’d invite five to ten customers to our headquarters, and conduct a no-holds-barred conversation with them about our products and marketing. Boy, were they flattered.
Over popcorn and soft drinks, we’d show them new product prototypes or share preliminary ad concepts. All of this proved extremely valuable in developing our product mix and marketing messages.
Just as important, these customers left the meetings with a renewed feeling of loyalty. We’d cared enough to ask for their input, and most were very appreciative of that. I’d highly recommend customer clubs as a valuable (and cheap) way to gather market feedback.

* Mystery shopping – Used widely by the retail industry, these studies hire an outsider to pose as a shopper at a company’s store. Studies like this help your company identify strengths and weaknesses in the following areas:

** Store appearance

** Service quality

** Selling skills of your personnel

** Product selection

** Pricing

To get the best results for this type of research, hire an outside firm and be very specific about the kind of feedback you’re seeking.

* Usability testing – If your company’s Web site plays a significant role in building the company’s identity, you may want to consider usability testing. Usability testing determines how well users can interact with your company’s website. In a typical web usability test, one or two users sit in a room and use the web site to perform certain tasks, while company marketers watch, listen, videotape or take notes. For more information on usability testing visit the Usability Professionals Association Web site at http://www.upassoc.org/ or read Steve Krug’s excellent book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.

One reason to use outsiders for customer research

If your company can afford it, consider hiring an outsider–either a consultant or researcher–to conduct much of this research. Many customers are reluctant to share their true opinions for fear of damaging the relationship. I have interviewed countless customers and prospects for my clients and I’m always a little surprised at how open they are with me. Perhaps they feel more comfortable telling an objective third party person the unvarnished truth.

Somw other tips on market research

* Always thank respondents after a research session. Send flowers or just send a thank you note, but find a way to recognize the time and effort they’ve sacrificed for your company.

* Whenever possible, try to quantify research results. Phrase questions along the line of “On a scale of 1 to 5, how important is it to you that __________”. This produces data that can be quantified and is easier to draw conclusions from.

* If your product is widely distributed, keep your eye on consumer feedback sites like e-pinions (www.epinions.com) and Amazon (www.amazon.com) . Some of the most valuable insights into your products will come from these sites because consumers are free to air out their true feelings, using their own words.

In closing

I’ve spent over two decades in the marketing field and one thing I know about companies that are successful marketers is that they commit to research as an ongoing marketing strategy. If you’re really serious about improving your company’s identity, you must have a market research program in place.

Combination Products – Union of Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries Brings Opportunities

A few years ago, the idea of integrating Internet capability, a camera and a video and audio player into a single compact device based on a cell phone was very appealing but hard, if not impossible to imagine. Now, there’s Apple’s iPhone and any number of competing devices that made that possibility an affordable, common reality. Converging different technologies into one single product is not confined to consumer and entertainment products anymore, either. Various industries, and in particular the pharmaceutical and medical device segments, are finding innovative means to deliver multi-functional healthcare products. It is a trend that has been developing for a few years now, and the stage is set for solid growth.

Converging Technologies Yield Efficiencies

Engineered from a mix of drug, device, or biologic components to form a single product, combination products represent a relatively new therapeutic and treatment approach, which is proving to be more effective for both pharmaceutical and device companies. Drug-device combinations are more appealing to both healthcare sectors simply because, in many cases, a single combination product containing both drug and device components can be more effective than either one of the components acting alone.

Drug-eluting stints are prime examples of such combination products. Approved by the FDA in 2003, the Cypher Sirolimus-eluting stint was designed to prevent or minimize restenosis (recurrence of narrowing of blood vessels) and to hold open narrowed arteries in cardiovascular applications. In this device, a time-release drug component incorporated as a coating for bare metal stints is used to prevent and minimize the risks and complications associated with typical non-drug, stand-alone stints.

Inhalation devices, drug-delivery pumps, drug-impregnated films and some wound care products also provide examples of successful combination products. Today, in many orthopedic devices, it is becoming customary to infuse implants with special proteins to facilitate bone growth and tissue regeneration.

Collaboration between drug and device companies is multiplying. The combination products currently in the market have already proven to be profitable. In recent years, more device and drug companies are reaching out to one another to develop better products to remain competitive technologically. According to a Navigation Consulting Inc. study, the global market for combination products would reach an estimated value of $9.5 billion by 2009. The big question is why more companies are not investing in this area.

Challenges and Hurdles

Perhaps the biggest challenges to collaboration between drug-device companies, are the fundamental cultural difference between the two industries-different mind-sets, practices, and business strategies. A second hurdle is identifying and recognizing target markets for combination products. For instance, device companies typically focus on hospitals and healthcare environments, whereas combination products are primarily intended for direct consumer uses.

Regulations and FDA approval are perhaps the most challenging obstacle for combination products because they require approval from more than one FDA medical agency. Furthermore, it becomes more challenging to figure out how combination products get classified, which ultimately results in more ambiguity and delay to market the product.

As a result of the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act of 2002, the Office of Combination Products (OCP) currently handles these products and regulates the jurisdictions of an alphabet soup of agencies that includes the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), and Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). The OCP determines a combination product’s primary mode of action and then assigns it to the appropriate FDA agency. In 2006, 231 original applications for combination products were submitted to FDA.

Establishing the OCP was a big step toward better handling of combination product assessments and approvals. However, ambiguity surrounding regulation and manufacturing protocols still exists. Companies manufacturing these combination products often have to deal with additional regulatory rules and compliance with more FDA agencies.

While drugs need to adhere to the FDA’s “current good manufacturing practices,” and medical devices need to follow “quality system” regulations, combination products must comply with both sets of regulations. Therefore, companies developing combination products need to understand each set of regulations, as well as developing manufacturing protocols and quality systems that meet both drug and device requirements. To speed up the process and avoid last-minute surprises, the FDA strongly recommends that manufacturers of combination products discuss the regulations with the agency to understand how they pertain to their products at very early development stages.

Beyond FDA Regulations

Successful collaborations between drug and device companies also require adjustments. Complete evaluations of how these combination products work for end users, are required, along with additional in vivo clinical studies. The companies must understand the interactions between the drug and the device when used by patients. And they must estimate potential side effects. All these tasks can delay the product development process, but it is crucial that companies understand that adding an additional pharmaceutical component to a device can adversely affect the device’s performance and potentially cause unwanted results. And if an already-approved device or drug is to be used in another part of the body, additional preclinical safety and clinical studies are needed to evaluate how it functions in the new environment.

In addition, combination products typically need sterilization and packaging procedures different from standard operations for individual drugs and devices. Companies developing combination products must adopt appropriate manufacturing protocols, and focus on internal business requirements much earlier in the development process.

Looking Ahead

The union of drug and device companies can offer tremendous therapeutic and financial advantages and bring patients more effective and efficient medical treatments. Many experts predict that the healthcare industry will see more mergers and acquisitions among drug and device companies in the near future, requiring significant learning across the two industries. The device company must learn how the drug works before delivering it through the device, while the drug company needs to become more familiar with FDA medical device regulations, how the devices work, and what factors may affect performance.

The term convergent technology is being used more frequently in the healthcare industry than ever before. Companies specializing in drug or device segments are evaluating options to combine multiple technologies to create better products. And the convergence is not limited to drug and device manufacturers as more electronics are being interwoven into devices. Orthopedic manufacturers are looking into using chips embedded in human bones to facilitate and support bone growth. Advanced pain management systems incorporate implantable devices that use transceivers to facilitate communication and data transfer to ultimately improve patient outcomes. In many cases, open innovation is the key, where development of products drawn from the expertise of different technologies, can serve various purposes. This holds immeasurable promise in the healthcare industry, which is simply too good to overlook.