From Don Smith at IPAPI…
Business excellence, like life, is a journey and not a destination. We never quite arrive. It is a series of paths strung together; some more successful than others and all educating us along the way. So it’s no surprise that recently the topic of ‘sustainability’ in terms of process improvement and business excellence has become a hot issue. Why are steady gains and improvements so elusive for most organizations? Why do we experience the huge gains from early process improvement projects and less from subsequent ones? There is no singular answer to this question of sustainability. Indeed, to get sustainability we have to look in a number of places.
Don points out that there is a singular focus on processes within manufacturing or operations. Rarely visited are customer support, order entry, fulfillment, warranty and other non-manufacturing processes.
The ‘key’ process of any company is their ‘quote to cash’ process. All other processes [even manufacturing] support the company’s ‘quote to cash’ process. There are many customer facing processes within a ‘quote to cash’ process. It only makes sense that one or more of a company’s key processes should be a customer facing process.
This brings me back to my 80/20 rule. If improving 20% of your processes provides 80% of the benefits, it only makes sense to focus on those key processes that fall into the 20% category. Further, it shouldn’t be surprising that improvements amongst processes that fall into the 80% category are not going to provide much in the way of gains.
The economy may be turning around, but it is not likely to happen quickly. It is always the right time to focus on your customer. Managing customer expectations would be a good place to start.
Has your company addressed any customer facing processes?
Keeping it Real!