A business development department is usually a functional division of a large organization. It focuses on growing the company through business relationships, acquisitions, new market entry, new products, efficiency gains and branding. It’s equal parts research, marketing and PR and can touch almost every part of the business. Starting a new department in an existing organization that hasn’t had a business development function will entail both creating the department and helping to manage the change it causes in the rest of the organization.
Determine the goals, scope and organizational position of the department. Research the current company procedure for business development and where business developers fit into each department that has them. You might find them scattered throughout sales, marketing, product development and the executive staff. Gather these people together to determine what changes the company needs to make in order to centralize this function.
Draft a charter for the department that outlines what types of tasks lie inside and outside its purview. For instance, you might determine that the priority is managing relationships with the supply network, but that there’s already another group tasked with market expansion. Then determine to whom the department reports formally, and from whom it needs informal or formal approval during the course of its work.
Hire appropriately trained and motivated staff. You may be consolidating people from across the organization, hiring from internal staff or hiring outsiders. In all cases, make sure that every employee is fully on board with the changes in the organization and is excited about starting the new department. Look for people trained in quantitative analysis, market research, outsourcing, and public relations or sales.
Work with division heads and influential managers and executives to incorporate the business development department into their planning and work flow. Business development can seem like a silo or like an externally facing department, but getting internal buy-in and information flow from key departments is essential to your success. Establish your department as a trusted internal authority on your key external relationships and on company strategy and strategic metrics, but do so with extreme diplomacy. Recognize that you’ll be setting policy that other departments may have to implement.
Set up efficient management tools. In addition to standard project management tools that provide Gantt charts and task lists, also provide tools for simulations and analysis, such as the firm SPSS offers, and access to marketing research or industry databases.