First of all, Aphra Inc. very nearly didn’t make it into this round. There was a power cut in the middle of the final “board meeting” (me, my PC and a bunch of printed spreadsheets) and the lights were still out when I got up on Monday.
An emergency board meeting was convened on Monday morning (me, my work PC and the faithful printouts) but it was uncertain if the board were going to be able to implement their decisions (the security guys at work have implemented fearsome controls over downloading and installing stuff). In the event the disaster recovery plan operated smoothly (it was ok, the Excel file is only a file so it made it past the security policies) and the board communicated its decisions successfully. Less flippantly: a word of praise is due here to the help team at MSI – I emailed them in a panic about the power cut and they said they would enter my decisions for me. This is the second time I’ve contacted them and I am genuinely impressed.
I’m nowhere near as far in front of the notional pack this time, but that is not such a surprise. (Remember “the pack” comprises the five dummy hands being played by the computer simulation). I am the third most profitable, in a field of six.
My strategy is to match the products very closely to the customers’ needs, and new products take a while to develop so I was without a High Tech offering until “November”. For the rest of the time I was making do with only one product which was de-tuned especially for the Low Tech market. As a result, I lost market share this round because I missed out on almost all the High Tech market sales. To be honest, that was no surprise – and hopefully it will be worth it to have perfectly pitched products. However, I also underperformed against my potential market share in each segment, which suggests that I missed a trick and should have spent more on marketing and sales.
The main thing I’ve learned so far is the importance of accurate sales forecasting – there’s a limit to how much you can protect yourself with decisions such as how many widgets to make, how much to invest in your factory or in marketing, how much to borrow and where. It’s really clear that if you get your sales forecast wrong you’ll either be deep in red doodoo, or you’ll not manufacture enough and miss sales that way.
Despite these good sales in the Low tech sector, I was the third most profitable company in the group because I invested so much time and money on developing the perfect product for each sector. Next round is key – I really do need to maximise sales and start reaping the rewards.
One good thing about the kerfuffle with the power cut is that I have discovered a whole extra set of results on the Times website. I’m not doing very well on the balanced score card – my scorecard score was 42 out of a possible 82 in Round 1 which is a slither above average and considerably lower than the front runner who’s score was 52. In round two I got 46 out of a possible 89. It is the balanced score card which is used to determine the final results, so in these terms I am depressingly average.
I can see that if I am going to gain real insights then I am going to have to get stuck in to forecasting sales properly and also make the effort to understand how the decisions I make play out against each other and against the balanced scorecard.
In the meantime, here is the Times’s own commentary on the results of Round 1:
The good news is that most people have made a profit. In some cases, quite an impressive profit – the top of the table goes to a player whose $5,209,959 is more than $1,000,000 ahead of the next in line. Towards the bottom end of the table, a handful of people earnt less than $100,000 while one player scraped together only $31,343. Almost a quarter of players went into negative numbers, with the worst loss being $14,201,485
Well, I wasn’t the one who cleared $5,209,959 profit in Round 1 or the person who made over $4 million either, but I did scrape in $2.5 or so which has kept me at the table. Incidentally the field appears to have dropped to about 630 from the 3880 who signed up. Many thanks to “Shane” for converting the Times’ Round 1 spreaddie into something sortable, informative and useful and then emailing it to me.