In the beginning all businesses start out as small businesses. They start with one, two or at most a handful of employees with a vision to give customers something new and different, or just better. They then focus like crazy on those illusive customers, doing everything that they can to find and please them.
If the new, different or just better is truly new, different or just better; then slowly but surely the customers start to materialise, they like what they see and what they are getting and then they start to hand over their hard earned cash so they can have it.
And then the company grows.
If things go well the business won't be a small business any more. It will have a hundred employees and it will be time to become organised like a big business. Groups of accountants and IT professionals start to congregate, a sales force is born, a human resources manager is hired, functions develop.
Sensible business owners put dynamic pushy people in charge of these new functions and give them targets to hit, financial targets, cost targets, revenue targets, growth targets. Now success looks like hitting your targets and those dynamic pushy people start to optimise away like crazy. They start to focus on the internal mechanisms of their organisations and before you know it you have Sales people who are dragging in sales, Operations people who are slashing costs and Marketing people who are building new markets.
And they all do this with gleeful disregard to one another. After all no operations guy is going to be rewarded if the accountants hit their target.
As all this happens the customer who everybody started off obsessing about becomes of secondary importance, and their sales orders, complaints and queries start to fall between the cracks of the SLA’s, targets and departmental objectives.
Then things start to stagnate, accusations are thrown and the functions become more and more retrenched, each striving harder than before to hit their targets. And so it goes on.
Maybe I have painted a very black picture, maybe a truthful one; either way the solution is not very difficult. It is remarkably simple. Get your business to re-focus on the customer and optimise around them not their functions.
And that is all business process management asks you to do. There is nothing very clever about it, it is just common sense.
Are you using yours?
James Lawther is a middle aged middle manager.
To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for numerous organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had several operational roles including running the night shift for a frozen pea packing factory and doing operational research for a credit card company.
As you can see from his CV he has either a wealth of experience, or is incapable of holding down a job. If the latter is true his post isn’t worth a minute of your attention.
Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to read it and decide for yourself.
Visit his web site “The Squawk Point” to find out more about service improvement.
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