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Evaluation of the Impact of the External and Internal Environment on Effective Management

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Submitted By nikoletad
Words 1993
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Evaluation of the impact of the external and internal environment on effective management
Introduction
In today’s fast paced and dynamic world, change itself is the only constant and any organization that does not respond to change is risks its long-term viability. This paper seeks to evaluate the impact of environmental conditions on the effective management of Focus Reports. Both internal and external will be analyzed to identify all opportunities and threats of the external environment as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the organizations.
Focus Reports is a UK-based and privately held independent publisher that produces exclusive country reports focused pharmaceutical, oil and gas and energy industries around the world through a portfolio of internet portals and world class print media. The company was founded in 2002 and has since produced over 80 reports covering 50 different countries through exclusive interviews with over 10.000 C-level managers worldwide.
Data for this analysis has been collected through interviews with a senior employee at the firm.

Key competitors
With well over six centuries since the first print media was published in the 15-th century, the publishing industry has had the time to develop in a mature and highly diversified industry. In order to identify the competitive threats that Focus Reports could be facing, it is therefore essential to properly identify the specific niche within which it operates.
As a company dedicated to producing country specific economic sectors, which include the pharmaceutical, oil and gas and energy industries, Focus Reports in fact operated in a highly specialized industry niche with few, yet strong competitors. These include: * Oxford Business Group (OBG) - www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/ * The Oil & Gas Year (TOGY) - www.theoilandgasyear.com * Mexico Oil & Gas Review (MOGR) - http://www.mexicooilandgasreview.com/
Together, these businesses, including Focus Reports, generally seek to achieve the same goals which is to provide a comprehensive overview of the latest developments, industry trends, and business strategies of the specific economic sectors through face-to-face interviews with government official, business leaders and investors. The source of revenues for these companies stems directly from the sale of advertisement space to public and private institution that participate in the repot.
It is worth noting however, that although all four companies share many similarities in operational objectives and methods, they are not entirely identical. Focus Reports, for instance, publishes its printed reports in the specialized magazines of its exclusive partner, the US-based PenWell Group. Oil and gas industry reports are published in the ’Oil & Gas Financial Journal’, the pharmaceutical reports in ‘The Pharmaceutical Executive’ and finally, its energy reports in ‘Power Engineering International’. In addition to this, it publishes its digital version of the reports on its respective dedicated media portals. In contrast, Focus Report’s three competitors print and publish their own reports as stand-alone books which allows them to include far more content and information than Focus Reports whose country reports tend to span only two or three dozen pages.
Furthermore, although there is some degree of overlap, all companies differ in their scope of industry analysis. While Focus Reports targets the energy and pharmaceuticals industries, TOGY and MOGR are obviously only focused on the oil and gas industries. OBG on the other hand produces country reports focused on the given country’s entire economic sector. Finally, all of the above companies operate on an international level, with the exception of MOGR, which has opted to focus only on the Mexican market.

Key Stakeholders
Stakeholder is a person who has something to gain or lose through the outcomes of a planning process, programme or project (Dialogue by Design 2008). For Focus Reports, its internal stakeholders are its employees and management. Its external stakeholders include its interviewees and clients (its customers), MOG, TOGY and OBG (its competitors), PenWell Group and its publications that publish their reports (its partners), as well as its content readers, both on print and digital media (arguably, another form of customer).

Current Strategy
Since its founding in 2002, Focus Reports has averaged an annual growth rate in revenues of approximately 10%. However, in 2013, the company for the first time experienced negative growth in revenues and 2014 is also on track to delivering similar results. In light of these development, Focus Reports’ management has sought to but cost and increase activity. It is cutting costs by limiting budgetary expenses incurred by on-going projects (cheaper office space, transportation and accommodation of employees, etc...). On the other hand, management has also sought to increase the number of its staff in order to have more on-going projects at any given time, with the hopes of increased revenues.
In addition to this, the company has sought to invest in its brand image and web platform. In 2013, the company invested in two new web portals (www.energyboardroom.com & www.pharmaboardroom.com) in a bid to professionalize and enhance its appearance to readers.

Implications for management
Focus Reports’ stated mission is to serve business professionals from the oil and gas, energy and pharmaceutical industries worldwide by providing efficient media of communication to guarantee that our clients get their message across to decision makers and our readers and users get access to unique information. As with any commercial enterprise, Focus Reports also seeks to maximize revenues and profits for its two founders and shareholders.
With a solid track record of a dozen years behind it including 80 polished reports covering 50 different countries, Focus Reports continues to enhance its market positioning and recognition. This is reflected in the steadily increasing internet traffic (approximately 15% average annual growth rate) its websites receive. Today, Focus Reports and its relevant web portals receive in excess of 1.3 million visitors per annum, and growing.
In addition to this, Focus Reports’ relationship with its exclusive publisher, PenWell Group, continues to develop and strengthen. For instance, the two are currently in talks to extent the number of media platforms in which Focus Reports’ oil and gas focused country reports are published. Instead of only publishing its reports in the ‘Oil & Gas Financial Journal’, they are soon expected to also be published in its sister publication ‘Offshore Magazine’ which is, as the name implies, focused on the offshore aspects of the oil and gas industry.
Nevertheless, despite these positive developments in the company’s evolution, revenues for the company have been falling, prompting management to reassess its approach and strategy. For one, the company has sought to reduce the level of risk it incurs when making the decision to commence a new country report on whatever industry. Since the company earns its bread and butter from advertisements placed in the report, if a certain project does attract enough advertisements, the company cannot justify publishing a report. For that reason, the company now ‘tests out the waters’ first by scheduling key meeting with government institutions and business associations to assess the level of support they can expect to receive. If this is found to be lacking, then the company will not go ahead with the project, avoiding having to invest in such an endeavor to only have to shut it down a couple of months later.
Conclusions
Focus Reports finds itself in an interesting position indeed. Despite stronger and more appealing platforms for communications (new web portals with increased traffic and an expanding pool of printed magazines which will soon include Offshore Magazine), the company’s revenues have been in decline for the second year now. Since its web traffic and readership base in general has been growing, the decline in revenues is most likely a result of both increasing competition and a decreasing volume of advertisers.
In terms of competition, Focus Reports’ employees have been reporting to their management that in most of the country’s they cover, TOGY and OBG have either recently been there or are in fact there at the same time. In effect, when the respective teams of these companies compete to meet with the same people in the industry and also compete to sell them advertisement space (which is by no measure cheap as a typical full-page placement costs in excess of $25,000), prospective buyers are more selective with whom they advertise. Moreover, with many teams seeking to interview executives on generally the same topics, these managers become less willing to meet with the media since they feel like they have nothing more to add. That their story has already been told. In turn, this lowers the likelihood of prospective sales.
On the other hand, historical figures indicate a decrease in advertiser volumes. This is likely related to increased competition as mentioned above but also, to some degree, the changing perception of these clients. That is, is been reported that a growing number of interview targets have declined to meet because of previous negative experiences in which they felt that the only reason these interviews were taking place was only with the aim of selling them advertisement. Obviously, this too has a negative effect on the overall comprehensiveness of these reports (fewer participants) and on revenues.
In response to these developments, Focus Reports responding in two ways. Internally, the firm has been investing in the skills development of its human resources by enhancing its editorial staff to improve quality of work and by developing the sales skills of its marketing teams. Externally, Focus Reports has sought to minimize the risk of failure it incurs in the projects it selects. In addition to this, the company has increased the number of staff in a bid to increase number of ongoing projects.

Recommendations
In light of the above information, it is recommended that Focus Reports’ management continues to control its costs, while developing its human resources and increasing its on-field activity.
Going further however, this research recommends that the management go a step further and invest in the business relationships it forms with its clients. Producing the respective country reports is said to take anywhere between 3-9 months, generally depending on the size of the industry. Once a client chooses to invest in an advertisement and all the necessary materials are provided, communication between the two often dries up. Since business is itself is grounded in human relationships, it is recommended that Focus Reports pursues a more intimate relationship with its key clients or markets. Mexico, Norway and Singapore have historically proven to be very lucrative markets for the company. All together, these countries were the highest grossing projects for the firm, in that order. We recommend for instance that Focus Reports establishes a more permanent base in those countries in order to develop lasting relationships with its clients and make a name for itself in those markets. This will enable the company to not only gain a better view of the market it is providing an analysis of, but also develop better partnerships with key clients. The well-known 80-20 rule states that eighty percent of your business comes from twenty percent of your clients. If Focus Reports is able to establish better relations with its clients in key markets, it can ensure to lock those key clients in. The potential benefits of such an approach are clearly demonstrated in one of the firms’ key competitors, MOGR. MOGR was in fact established in 2005 by a former employee of Focus Reports that was sent on an oil and gas focused project in Mexico. Having spent some time there, the employee left Focus Reports and founded MOGR, with the key difference of focusing on only one country: Mexico. Although access to financial information for comparison purposes is limited, MOGR exceeds the volume of advertisers its reports contain when compared Focus Reports. In an increasingly competitive world with many overlapping product and service providers, maintain business relationships is key and that is why we recommend Focus Reports invests in developing longer term orientated projects in key markets in order to provide for a more stable revenue stream.

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