Business enterprise Growth – AFAB Is a Four-Letter Term, So Say Concentrate Rather


AFAB (A-fab) noun:

1) a sale of “anything at all for a buck” in get to generate income and maintain billable personnel hectic

2) a business enterprise circumstance which can impede enterprise advancement, differentiation and/or revenue

3) in extra mature companies, a symptom of absence of target on specific product or service or services choices


Even so you determine it, AFAB (anything at all for a buck) is a problem, which normally impacts a business enterprise at some level or factors in its existence cycle. It is important to figure out when your company is struggling from AFAB in get to choose corrective actions. Failure to do so will effects your organization as a result of decrease gross margins, greater opportunity prices, and lack of model and expert services differentiation. Even much better, find out the warning indications (e.g., flat revenue growth or usually needing various skills to team projects) in order to avoid the ailment when achievable.

The remainder of this posting addresses company growth and wherever AFAB can come about, AFAB’s results in, indications and treatment, and the gains from minimizing AFAB in your firm.

Small business Development and Maturity

The expansion cycle of an IT professional expert services company encompasses 4 phases. Quite a few companies by no means knowledge the entire cycle, which does not say they are not successful. It just signifies they probably did not reach their full prospective. Also, it is feasible that a organization can soar into the market with a exclusive featuring and rocket as a result of the growth cycle. This problem would evidently be an exception.

The 4 phases of advancement generally take place in the following sequence:

1) Company Initiation

In this stage the business enterprise is just obtaining begun either from scratch with some kind of business enterprise approach or seeded by a person to two initial accounts you have currently presold. Attention is specified to advertising and marketing and profits actions and high quality of challenge shipping. Scope of products and services is centered on what your staff is aware greatest, but to carry on to travel earnings you market what you rationalize you can supply, even if you have to use third social gathering contractors.

This is the most usual circumstance for AFAB. It is straightforward to justify, and it will help you deliver revenue to fund the company. On the upside, you may perhaps start off to create some prolonged-expression consumer associations. On the draw back, you have hassle differentiating yourself, since it is hard to outline what you do in terms other than the breadth of technologies you use. To possible shoppers, you audio like everyone else. In addition, you normally undervalue your expert services based on the price you can command.

2) Apply Improvement

At this position you realize that there are some patterns to your engineering operate. You have specific concentrate on specified sellers and their solutions, so you determine to boost the firm’s depth of experience in these few crucial technologies. Observe managers are assigned to lead the progress of remedies, the administration of men and women inside of their methods, development of partnerships (e.g., item distributors and training providers), and ultimately the profitability of the practices themselves.

It is all through this section that the business starts off to become known for its specialized know-how. Most, if not all, of the firm’s perform is accomplished in the nearby current market. Your specialized expertise commences to slim down the competitors some, but differentiating the business is nonetheless fairly difficult.

3) Company Enlargement

This phase is characterised by progress into small business answers and/or geographic expansion. Just as you acknowledged complex specialization in the before period, your organization now has a pattern of general performance in industries (i.e., verticals) and organization capabilities (e.g., gross sales, human sources, and many others.). The intersection of a technology and a person or both equally of these other parts permits you to emphasis in on unique company answers. For each one particular you assign a apply manager as you did for your technological know-how practices.

These business answers start out to provide the organization authentic differentiation. You narrow the industry of level of competition down noticeably and can get started to command greater service fees for the function you deliver. In addition, as you master these more one of a kind offerings in the regional market and are recognized for your know-how, you are afforded the possibility to take them to regional and nationwide markets, specially those you view as remaining underserved.

4) Continuous Advancement

Your company is rising, rewarding, differentiated and identified in the marketplace. The levels of competition is aiming for you. You have to have to constantly re-assess all elements of your organization from support choices to marketing and advertising and revenue to supply to operations. Commonly, the two largest places requiring emphasis are changing your choices to meet marketplace requirements and strengthening performance in supply and guidance solutions.

This is a time when you can more confidently introduce new strategies to offer choices to your existing and target customers these as managed services (e.g., software assistance or network infrastructure) and SaaS (i.e., computer software as a service).

AFAB is commonplace in the to start with period, Small business Initiation. It can also happen in the other phases co-current with precise tactics or small business options. In some situation, AFAB can be justified on a non permanent foundation. For instance, if your business is completely assignments-centered and you are encountering the down aspect of the “roller-coaster” income influence, then you could will need to take action to make improvements to utilization by accepting work outside the house of your normal scope. In this circumstance, preserving a consistent eye on source allocation is crucial in get to minimize the time AFAB is commonplace.

Causes of AFAB

There are various good reasons AFAB can area in your organization.

  • Staying in the Organization Initiation stage of your firm’s lifestyle cycle (exactly where AFAB is a regular prevalence)
  • Not defining your scope of solutions and just assuming that in excess of time it will determine by itself
  • Deficiency of consideration to business planning and examination of results – you are chaotic operating in the organization and unable to devote the time required to do the job on the small business
  • Unassigned billable consultants on the bench
  • Comparatively lean revenue pipeline
  • Obtaining a superior administration crew, but lacking anyone with the working experience to proactively control your services portfolio

Signs or symptoms

The warning symptoms of AFAB are various. The issue is owning controls in place to recognize them as quickly as achievable. Among the the signs and symptoms are:

  • Revenues are flat or are expanding at a reducing charge in excess of time
  • Each task you provide is a one-off (i.e., special where you have not carried out the work ahead of) or is a further variation of prior function – there is little repeatability in delivery
  • You never look to have the right staff to fill the accessible task roles
  • Gross margins are flat or lowering because of to growing expense of shipping – you are applying far more 3rd social gathering consultants at a better than budgeted price
  • Product sales cycles keep on being reasonably prolonged and essential options are bunched together less than the exact revenue phase or two
  • Qualified lead era is inconsistent (e.g., restricted advertising and marketing action) signaling one more roller coaster wave in the product sales cycle


Eradicating AFAB and preventing upcoming small business plateaus demand diagnosis of the situation, cure and preventative actions developed alongside 3 concepts:

1. Concentration

  • Assessment historic data on assignments (i.e., numbers and income) to identify styles of technologies employed, industries served, and organization capabilities and concerns addressed
  • Evaluate historic client information and facts (i.e., quantities, revenue, industries, organization measurement, potential buyers, difficulties, length of time as a consumer, and so forth.) to identify an excellent focus on account profile
  • Issue in latest revenue pipeline activity and knowledge of other areas (e.g., pending variations in technology, opportunity marketplace adjustments, and so forth.)
  • Refine your providers portfolio to involve the offerings that ideal assistance the route you set for the corporation
  • Establish and assign apply administrators to guide every place in additional enhancement of answers, management of their consulting groups, growth of partnerships, revenue support, services delivery, customer relationship management, and developing favorable fiscal benefits

As elementary as it appears, it is astonishing how a lot of IT companies firms do not conduct an analysis of their jobs and customers to ascertain this crucial facts.

2. Alignment

  • Guarantee that the organization management workforce is in sync on the route of the business and conclusions designed all around your expert services portfolio
  • Deliver distinct definition of goals and aims to the small business parts that will assistance the tactics, specially marketing and advertising and recruiting
  • Connect the recently refined enterprise approach internally, then to the market when ready

3. Metrics

  • Enhance your month-to-month performance dashboard to include things like indicators of a possible AFAB predicament (e.g., rising use of 3rd party contractors)
  • Take care of the profits pipeline to recognize the ebb and move in new qualified prospects, delays in closing chances, etcetera.
  • Develop general performance reporting for each apply to boost the manager’s ability to operate his/her enterprise

Each of these 3 areas (i.e., concentration, alignment and metrics) involves ongoing notice as section of leadership’s accountability within just the business.

Gains of Minimizing AFAB

Even though AFAB has a spot in the Enterprise Initiation stage of a firm’s daily life cycle and can be justified at other periods on a short-term foundation, you have to acquire the willpower to regulate AFAB to a bare minimum, which suggests learning to say “no”, an unpleasant thing to do. The likely rewards of blocking or restricting AFAB by building options addressing specific industries, business enterprise features and systems in your firm consist of:

  • Improved differentiation of your support choices
  • Larger opportunity to perform with consumer executives when you provide business enterprise-oriented solutions
  • Elevated repeatability of jobs and perform components
  • Far more economical tasks, thus decreased fees of shipping and delivery
  • Lowered threat on initiatives
  • Improved pricing chances primarily based on differentiation
  • Elevated revenues
  • Improved gross margins
  • Much more economical on-boarding of new consultants

These positive aspects are true and do not need sizeable incremental expenditure in your organization.

Do you experience from AFAB?


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