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MoSCoW. The method not the place.

MoSCoW is an acronym which stands for Must, Should, Could and Will not. This is a method used on new projects which enables all stakeholders to agree what is really important.

Must haves need to be completed before the launch of the product or service.

Should have need to be mostly completed.

Could haves will have some completed before launch.

Will nots will have none completed.

Should I bother using it? It is quite a common approach and therefore projects teams are familiar with it. The main benefits are that in a sea of requirements its easy to see which are the most important. It also really helps focussing project time especially when scope creep starts in anger.

Any limitations?

Some. Whilst having all the Musts completed is easy, there is not always an agreement on how many Shoulds or Coulds need to be. Will nots is easy for day one launch although whether these features are dropped forever or parked for another day is not always clear.

So why are the o’s so small and what do they stand for?

They stand for absolutely nothing. It’s just that without them MSCW is quite hard to say.

I don’t suppose you have one for sale do you?

Never thought you’d ask.

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Breaking into Lloyd’s of London

At over 330 years old, Lloyd’s is the most recognisable insurance institution in the world. Specialising in non-standard risks others cannot or will not insure it is something of a world renown institution.

It is also necessarily a complex market place, steeped in history yet embracing the future. For example Lloyd’s works on a 3 year cycle – the time it took ships to circumnavigate the globe. It also can place Cyber insurance at a range of insurers.

The individual syndicates who make up the market place are always looking to evolve. As a result change programmes with innovation are a constant theme.

But how to translate complex projects to investors and boards who need to see everything on a single page?

One of consultants was approached with this very challenge, one which we were more than happy to oblige with. Step forward our Product Delivery Roadmap now part of a board pack in the Lloyd’s building.

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“Now I understand why you need procurement”

Commodity Dashboard

One of our fathers had just been watching the UK news . The UK transport minister had just seen a £33 million out of court settlement to Euro Star because a tender process had gone a tad wrong.

The penny had dropped; a career in procurement was suddenly vindicated as the consequences of not doing a proper job was being broadcast to the nation.

It is actually quite difficult to present the issues which led to the pay out seem true rather than made up, as they are so farcical. It was a near £14 million pound contract awarded to Seabourne Freight to move medical supplies, by sea, that had a couple of snags;

  • The firm had no real trading history
  • And had not ran a ferry service before
  • Its terms and conditions referred to website food orders
  • And they had no ships

And so they found legal action on their door step from Euro Star over the was the contract was awarded.

Now we are sure that there were reasons why the 4 points above were ignored/overlooked (there must be right?) but the point remains that even on lesser oversights, running a procurement process properly is actually quite important.

Even our dads know this now.

Running a procurement project? Have a look here

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GDPR – Boring but important

By the 25th May 2018 GDPR comes in to force and it affects anyone who trades with anyone within the EU.

Within the UK there are now thousands of experts in the field, guiding companies through the process of readiness, changing contractual terms for their suppliers (and increasing limits of liability for breaches if uncapped liability not an option) and generally keeping compliance departments really really busy.

Potential fines are HUGE (4% of global turnover) and will fund regulators so expect there to be fines. The biggest risk to individual companies however is the claimant solicitors all ready in the wings to take on cases where people feel their data has been breached. Seriously, just do a google search and see how many domain names have already been registered in anticipation.

We would outline the details of the forthcoming legislation and a handy guide of what to do, how and when. But it’s not straight forward and it’s probably best to hear it from those managing it, such as the ICO in the UK.

What have we done?

Whilst reviewing the legislation as a whole got dull quickly, how it affected us (we are ever so slightly narcissistic) did not and we’ve held a number of compliance meetings over the past 6 months. The outcome of which can be summarised as follows in terms of how we have interpreted the act and what we have done about it.

Privacy by design

This is a phrase oft repeated when discussing the act but it really is pertinent. We have reviewed every single one of our processes (that was a fun week) from searching on our site to making a purchase and have ensured that this principle is upheld EVERY SINGLE TIME.

What this means in real words;

  • We only use the data you supply when making a purchase to process your purchase
  • It is has NEVER been used for anything else and never will be
  • We don’t auto-sign you up for anything.
  • Anything you do sign up for (news letter, creating an account) is strictly opt-in only
  • We have never sold or passed on data, we’re not about to start

Actually, this was the easy bit for us – we didn’t really need to do or change anything, just map it all out. We’ve also never had adverts or banners on the site so that was another area we didn’t have to consider.

Retention of Data

The act is quite clear in that records should only be held as long as they need to be, and to be fair this has not changed from the current legislation in the Data Protection Act.

We do retain purchase records because we are often contacted by customers who have changed PC’s or lost their template and ask us to resend it, sometimes many years after the purchase date.

Because we actually like helping folk out we’ve been more than happy to do this at no charge but after much internal debate we’ve concluded that we need to auto delete purchase records after a suitable period. Presently we are fixed on retention for 60 days and have already deleted thousands of records ahead of May.

In real terms this means we will happily carry on helping folk out who have lost a template purchased a few years ago, we just won’t be able to find the purchase record so it will be imperative that you retain your invoice.

We’ll issue a further update ahead of May, but rest assured we are taking the whole GDPR thing ever so seriously.

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Business Documents hit the stage

One of us was let lose this month and found himself in front of 300 sleepy post-lunch sets of eyes staring blankly back at him. Of course, the content up on the stage screen was grossly over-engineered as our intrepid speaker could not shake the thought that by representing Business Docs in a public arena, the slides had BETTER be good!

For what it is worth, here are a few tips we can offer for getting up on stage and trying to stop a room full of people boo or fall asleep.

  1. Remember who your audience is
  2. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them it, then remind them what you just told them
  3. Humans seem to work better with 3 things be it sections, content or ideas
  4. Memorise your lines, practice your lines, learn the flow
  5. Know your next slide so you can transform effortlessly from one to another
  6. If you even bother with slides – some of the best speakers use few
  7. Don’t be so rigid with your presentation that you can’t flex a little with the mood in the room
  8. Don’t sell your own product – sell your presentation
  9. Make it feel like you wrote it for that audience
  10. Remember that they are more scared of you than you are of them*

*That might be dogs

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Building customer trust? Start by trusting your customer.

I have spent many years working in the financial services sector; a heavily regulated industry where fraud is a constant and real presence. The fact is that people do steal from their insurance company and our head office had a zero tolerance approach. Which is completely understandable.

But on occasion it felt as if the customer as a result of this was starting from a position of having to demonstrate that they were honest and truthful as opposed to that being the natural assumption until proven otherwise.

I once asked a rehabilitation nurse what the worse thing about her job was; “people faking injuries” was the immediate response. “And not because they are trying to get money, I don’t care about that. What I do care about is that I have a maximum case load I can take and that cheat meant I didn’t help someone else who genuinely needed me“. So it is entirely understandable how there can sometimes be a sense of distrust upfront – not because frontline staff don’t care, but actually because they do.

Looking outside of the sector I have known so well for so long, I went looking for other companies in other industries to see if anyone had made a conscious choice to

  1. Accept the customers word at face value, no questions asked
  2. Created a customer service ethos around this

Quite a few companies started to stand out who had done just that.


Once you start looking a few names keep cropping up and one of those is the fashion retailer, Nordstrom. There are hundreds of examples of what they have done, all under the single instruction of “Use good judgement in all situations” 

Proving that world class customer service is not an invention of the modern age, the story that is often relayed is from the 1970’s when a customer returned a set of Winter tyres to their Nordic store and requested a refund of $145. This was dutifully given, no questions asked, despite the fact that Nordstrom have never sold tyres.

There is a bit of further context to this story which is not always elaborated on; Nordstrom had only a few weeks earlier bought the site where the store was now situated from a tyre company where the returning customer had originally purchased the tyres.  They had no legal responsibility for the tyre store, but could understand the customer coming to them.


Like Nordstrom, there are countless examples of the customer service ethos and face value trust that this shoe retailer installs in its staff. They also hold a record for the longest customer service call, taken in December 2012 which came in at 10 hours, 29 minutes because each call takes as long as it needs to.

Away from stories of flowers sent, hand delivered items in emergencies and so on is a simple one where a customer reported her sons shoes had broken and Zappos simply apologised and sent a new pair – no photographs of the shoe as evidence, no having to return the defective item, just taking the customers word for it.


Over the years Amazon have also gained a world class customer reputation, and like Zappos a lot is down to the trust element.

One customer reported a coffee machine to be an unwanted gift after some 3 months of purchase, returned the item and waited for the $189 refund. When it didn’t arrive she called Amazon who had never received the returned item. They took her word and made the refund immediately.


It’s not for insurance so I have counted it as another sector!

Over the years their customer service ethos has really grown. A recent example was where cash was withdrawn from an ATM using the credit card in error (it had the same PIN as the debit card which was intended to be used). Knowing that the charges associated with this would be just shy of the national debt the customer contacted Barclaycard to explain it had been done in error – all charges associated with the transaction were waived because the customer service agent didn’t think it was fair for the customer to pay out for a mistake.

Folk Clothing

It’s not just the larger companies that follow this ethos; a small retailer based in Lambs Conduit St, London has the same sense of trust.

A customer bought two items online but on arrival it was found that one of the items was a slightly different version to the one ordered. On contacting the store, apologies were offered, the correct item was located from the stock room and a cab ordered to dispatch it immediately. The customer explained that they might not be in due to a prior meeting so the cabbie was instructed to leave the item in a safe location. At no stage were any arrangements made for the return of the wrongly sent item and this was only done when the customer phoned the following day.

Putting your money where your mouth is

When we formed Business Documents UK LTD we were determined that we would have the same customer ethos running through our business; i.e. we would take our customer at face value. When it’s a small business and alarm bells start going off that’s sometimes a little harder to do than we first thought, but we’ve stuck to it.

Last week a customer in Oman was having trouble using the payment system on our site to buy our biggest item. His credit card wasn’t working so after trying a couple of options with him, he told us he’d transferred the money into our account. Our bank shows no money transfer and when we call them, they have no record at all. The customer then contacts us and says he’d like the templates delivered today please.

So we send them.

The money arrived the next day.

We’ve issued refunds on requests despite there being nothing wrong with the product (customers words not ours), send alternative versions if people change their minds and even re-written a couple of templates just for that individual.

Have people taken advantage of us? We’d say possibly, cynics would say definitely.

So will we change?

Not a chance.

What we have seen is that the customers we have been privileged to have bought from us have been disarmingly honest, decent folk and the bottom line is that we accept that a few might try it on so that we can trust the majority who won’t.