The focus of reengineering and process optimization
Many organizations have invested significant time and means in internal process optimization. Often for all the right reasons, such as performance improvements which were essential and reduced organisational bloat. Occasionally for the wrong reasons, such as the reaction the stock market will have on the intent to reengineer: management by announcement. These optimizations are almost always internal: for most comanies, direct cost control over a process ended at their door. But does it? Should there not be an external focus?
The relevance of the external focus
Internal processes impact the customer base, either directly or indirectly. So if an organization starts restructuring these processes, it will impact its customer experience. You really can’t have one without the other. So during a reengineering project, the focus needs to be external as well. This is often neglected. If an organization fails to address the impacts of its process adaptations on its customer base, it is likely to alienate customers. This way, internal cost reduction leads to an external revenue reduction. Usually not the purpose.
first step towards understanding – walk a mile in your customer’s shoes
There are a couple of concrete actions an organization can commit itself to in order to gain a better understanding of the external impact its reengineered procedures can have.
A first thing to do, to paraphrase Steven Covey, is to first seek to understand. You can only truly appreciate the issues your customers have if you understand them. Not only on the intellectual level, but on the emotional level as well. And the best way to do that is to become your own customer.
Approach your organization as if it were a third party, and engage in a transaction. What happens? What do you need to do? Do you understand why the process requires you to perform certain actions? Is it apparent to your customers? Is it really necessary?
Based on this initial insight, this understanding, you will be in a much better position to understand the genuine concerns your customers may have.