Company's "Birth"

Once upon a time, on the 13th of February in 1992, a group of several young people established ALT Research and Consulting Company.

What does the name ALT mean? Nobody knows. The only person who knows it is Ilya Hait (a founder), but he keeps the secret. Or he may have forgotten, but doesn't want to confess.

First Steps

The First Consulting Project
To make a long story short, this priceless consulting needed to be sold to someone. A mailing out of a tempting offer brought an unexpected payoff. "Mekhanobr - Tekhnika" research institute invited us for a complex project of the institute privatisation and restructuring. A range of problems was really broad: from legal pattern to interpersonal relations of top managers. Lack of experience was atoned for with keen interest in the client's problems, thorough analysis of the alternatives and self-assurance. Yes, we can!

"ALT - Invest" Is the First … Investment Project of the Company
"Why don't you deal just with your consulting if you like it so much? What brought you into software as well, great "diversificators"? - might ask some critics. Here is the answer: nothing brought us there, we did it deliberately. We took a strategic decision to invest an "ALT - Invest" project. We took a risk. At that time a "UNIDO technique" was a real discovery for economists. The magic of NPV, IRR, … It was a fresh, promising and tempting idea to create an Excel programme based on the world-renown technique and at the same attuned to the Russian particularity. And we did it. A publication of "Investment Projects Evaluation Techniques" by Kyrill Voronov in "Financial Press" newspaper not only assured strong affection of Russian investors for this little masterpiece, but also caused significant growth of "ALT-Invest" sales. Whatever one would say, it is so good to be a monopolist. Alas, "Project Expert" and "Investor" and others appeared soon. However, "ALT-Invest" has been the best product since that time.

New Programmes - New Projects

New Members of the Family
"ALT - Finance" grew out of the joint consulting project with АО "Lacond" ("Ladozhskij Kondensator"). By the way, that was a heroic project: we were working in winter at almost unheated camping in the town of Novaya Ladoga in St.Petersburg region. Surprisingly but it was namely in these "anti-computer" conditions where a need for a future programme prototype, financial ratios "counter" in Excel tables, arose. When the programme was ready we realised that after some adjustments we would get a product that can be used by any company. Later on out of two or three consulting projects we got "ALT-Forecast". An integrated computer model of the company allowed to show in figures and to compare development alternatives, and to understand what actions are needed to improve company's economics. It keeps up clients' spirits, and especially when "it is all so bad". But to argue against a figure is in vain.

Our failures
If we speak of the progress only, we'll have a sugary story. We did have turkeys. We were not able to make a good distribution system of "ALT - Plan", which needed individual implantations and we had to stop the project. We overestimated a potential market of "ALT-Micro" "micro program" for Psion microcomputer users. And we never started promotion of "ALT - Market" site last year. Attempts to overstep a large-scale and medium-scale business segment and to create programmes for a small-scale business have come to nothing for many times. The capacity of the market is so huge! But we resisted the temptation - consulting practice helped us not to repeat mistakes of those our clients who tried to do too many things at a time.

First "ALT" Conference
How could we take up this wildcat and how could we swing it? Now we cannot understand this. By the year of 1995 we had already had regular seminars on investment and financial analysis, but there were plenty of problems that overstepped their frames. And we also have one peculiarity: we share with others what we know. It is generosity, probably. So we decided "to span analysts and managers with a bridge" and named the conference "A Role of an Analyst in an Investment Process". Surprisingly even for us the "concept" kindled a keen interest and about a hundred and a half investors came to the conference, though, frankly speaking, low participation fee ($ 25/100) also contributed to success.

"Growth Management " Is a Fresh View at the Russian Industry
It is well known that Russian consultants mainly work not with successful companies but with those that face serious problems. But learning from them mostly concerns "don't do's". That is why the most topical and creative task in 1996 was to study, analyse and share with others the experience of successful companies that managed the entry into market economy. And we did this research: interviews with interesting directors - throes of creative process - publication in "Expert" magazine - absolute success and all-Russian celebrity. We do not want to look like absolute philanthropists, so we have to mention that it was the publication in "Expert" that gave us new clients, and first of all unforgettable Orsk Mechanical Plant.

From Light Motorbikes…
The other event of the year of 1996 was a start of a long-term project together with a АО "Zavod imeni V.A. Djagtereva", that is the largest enterprise in Vladimir region. The question "Is it worth turning into a holding company?" gave birth to the project. It never turned into a holding company. But there still was a problem: what to do with motorbikes production of the plant, as it did not fit into armament business. We carried out a complex research (economics, marketing, management system), involving even focus-groups. And after vivid discussions a new "Motorbikes Production" department was established at the plant.

… to Heavy Ones
It was in 1998 when ALT favourite project started. This is the project at Irbit motorbikes production plant. In a few words about the plant and about us: dead-end with barter - cross-country vehicles driving - change of management team - new fence and new motorbike models - "Ural" is a Russian motorbike! - rejecting illusions - a business-model? - a strong restructuring - a niche product for a foreign market. To put it in a nutshell - this is a management thriller. A good case, many useful lessons, especially if you are an onlooker. And to add up - the same Ilya Hait is a general director of Irbit motorbikes production plant now.

"ALT's" Clamp

Our Activities at "OMZ"
We were lucky. We did a fruitful joint work with "developing" client - Khakha Avtandilovich Bendykidze, a general director of "Objedinennuje Mashinostroitelnuje Zavody". We met Bendykidze when doing a research "New Business in Russia" (1997). Our co-operation grew step by step: Irbit motorbikes production plant project at first, then АО "Izhorskiye Zavody" restructuring (1998/1999) and finally АО "Objedinennuje Mashinostroitelnuje Zavody" reorganization (2000 - 2001). Atomic reactors, walking excavators, derricks - this is the specific romance of heavy machinery. New problems to solve, a new scope, a new point of view on Russian companies. How many consultants have worked with a machinery producing client who set a task to research foreign heavy machinery companies' structures and their specifics?

Come-back to the Market
When you work with a huge "monoclient" for a long time, your marketing activity decreases to a minimum. God forbid, if we have another big order, who will deal with it? That is why there was lack of orders after the project with ОМZ, so we concentrated on promotion. We revived negotiations, renewed a consulting page on our web-site, started a few seminars-presentations in St.Petersburg, and so on. Promotion activities and information "openness" lead to increase in a demand for consulting. Now we are eager to take up a strong position in the market - a demand for our services should exceed the number of offers.

The 7th "ALT" Conference. Do they still keep on coming?
Many Moscovites still doubt if St.Petersburg can hold conferences on management equal to those held in the capital. It is nice to know that those who came here once keep on coming. What is a secret of a long life of our "Management in Russia" conference? First of all it is an exclusive, personalised project. "ALT" is not a mere initiator. We set the subject for every session, try to "catch the most recent trend". Besides every year we all try to figure out what new has happened in management practices of Russian successful companies. We are still interested in it so we'll keep on doing this.

Strategy, Business Model, Changes
Besides all above mentioned we think. Except for setting up our priorities in consulting (see the title of this paragraph), we also analyse our experience and develop methodical materials - all what we have learned has to be handed over to junior consultants. All the methods have to be experimentally tested: we got more experience in strategy development working with "Objedinennaja Panelnaja Gryppa", in business modelling - with "Pervomayskaja Zaria", in changes support - with "Mekhanobr - Tekhnika". We do not stand still, we make progress and so do our clients.

Seminars Are Always Exclusive
Our special pride is seminars on a financial and investment analysis. Do you doubt? You can have a look at participants' references. The majority of them employ our software models (and we have about 1500 of them). But we do not teach to use these models, we teach to carry out a correct and complete economic analysis. Seminar programmes are constantly updated.

A New " Growth Management"
5 years have passed and again a need to know what successful industrial companies are doing and where they are going to arose. " Growth Management - 2001", as well as the first research, fills you with new energy when you learn about successful companies' doings and findings. But now goals and decisions of these companies are not similar. There are more questions than answers. There are enough questions for the next decade.

ALT-Invest split-off

In May 2004 ALT took an uncommon strategic decision: ALT-Invest, a company engaged in developing software programs for economic analysis and organizing seminars, split off. The decision was not an easy one. But we have often tried to convince our clients of the need to concentrate on a company’s core business. So we managed to solve all the major and minor questions that arose in the course of the split-off and to carry it through. Time has shown that both businesses profited by the demerge.

How to create distinguished companies

In November 2004 we held the 10th annual conference on management, ‘Management in Russia: Creating Distinguished Companies’ that turned out to be the most interesting one. 2005 showed that our business was expanding; we were overloaded with consulting projects. However, it is not enough for us to be just successful, we made it our goal to become a distinguished consulting company. And once you set your head on doing something, you are sure to hit the mark, aren’t you?

The unexpected buoyancy of Eastern Europe

Business in Russia is developing dynamically. But we wanted to have a look ahead, so in 2004-2005 we conducted another research from the Management growth series in cooperation with some successful companies from Eastern Europe. The directors of successful companies from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary turned out to be outgoing and buoyant people, ready to share wholesome advice on how to compete with prominent Western companies. We projected their experience onto Russian realities and created an entrepreneurial model of management. Among its five specific features are a ‘quick-response’ company and friendly business.

Ambitious strategy

ALT lived through 2005 and 2006 engrossed in the idea of ambitious strategy. We developed a seminar ‘Ambitious Strategy Development and Implementation’. The conference held in cooperation with the Faculty of Management (Saint-Petersburg State University) was dedicated to the same topic: ‘Management in Russia: time for ambitious goals’. It was the first time that our conference attracted so many ambitious and energetic managers. The concept of an ambitious company must have had a great influence on ALT: in 2006 our business grew by 112%.

Active market position

In 2006 we managed to implement a strategic decision concerning the increase of the market segment share of new companies among our clients, creating a balance between new and industrial clients. We developed a particular system of promotion and a number of key consulting products for each of these two groups.
We specified the structure of ALT’s 5 key products concentrating, to a greater extent, on strategy development.

ALT does not cease to develop…