Announcing Business Process Training for 2011

Certified Process Professional (CPP)

Certified Process Professional (CPP)

Returning to Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks, this world renowned programme (just sold out again in Europe) offers the full Certified Process Professional (CPP) training and certification, and it is a 'must have' for both the practising and aspiring Business Process Professional.

If you missed out on the training last year, make sure that you don't miss out again this year! This is the most pragmatic and immediately accessible approach that I've found to reduce costs, increase revenue and improve customer service.

The BP Group have just announced that they are now taking bookings for their Certified Process Professional training and has scheduled sessions for the end of January through until mid-March and in the following cities:

Looking for BPM training in Sydney, Adelaide or Hobart? Or maybe in-house training would be preferable? Either leave a comment below or email us directly via our contact form (here) and we will advise you of possible options.

The BP Group is offering discounts to members of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and the Australian Business Analysis Association (ABAA).

The programme is based around REAL case studies and draws on the world leading best practice of organisations such as Disney, BestBuy, FedEx, Virgin, SouthWest, Gilead Sciences, Emirates and many more. The result is one of the most up-to-date, thorough, and informed courses in business today.

I highly recommend it.

PS. Sign up to our mailing list to receive future postings.

The Customer Is Not Always Right

No, I'm not referring here to the way we manage potentially abusive customers. You don't have to search too hard to find numerous postings about customer service. Rather, continuing on from my previous post, I'm exploring the gap between what a customer may request or say that they want, what they truly need, and the requirement for suppliers to recognise the difference.

As customers, we perceive the offerings of suppliers and join the lines between what we see is on offer and what we want. Because everything that we do comes from a baseline or point of reference that we have developed through past experience, we frame our desires in terms of the products or services that we perceive. How often have you walked into a store, or browsed a store on line, only to leave empty handed because you didn't see anything that you wanted to purchase? What about those times when you don't ask a supplier for what you really need because you've already decided that they can't deliver? As such we may be missing the opportunity for a supplier to satisfy what we really need.

More importantly, as suppliers, the moment that the customer enters into our space, they are presenting us with an opportunity. It should not be acceptable to allow this opportunity to go untapped. How do we maximise that opportunity and ensure that we are helping our customer to fulfill their needs? Ensuring that we capitalise on that opportunity means that we need to look beyond what the customer may initially request. Our capacity to meet the customer's needs, extends to understanding our customer and placing ourselves in their shoes.

As suppliers, it's not enough to just advertise the products and services we can provide. To be successful, we need to truly understand our customers and what they really need. Are we making their lives easier and more successful? Can we quantify what constitutes a Successful Customer Outcome (SCO)?

Mick Jagger expressed it well:
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need."

If you are just fulfilling customer requests then you will not win market share.

If we are creating successful customer outcomes then our business will in turn be successful.

Book Review - "Outside-In" by Steve Towers

Outside-In - The Secret of the 21st Century Leading Companies

BP Group Press, 2010

Steve Towers has once again put pen to paper to present us with strategies that organisations may adopt to achieve success in today's ever-changing business landscape.

An Outside-In Philosophy

In suggesting that today's businesses are working with new rules and within a new environment is no surprise to any of us who are over the age of 30. The question is how to mould organisations into a way of thinking that is aligned with today's consumer to ensure "successful customer outcomes" in all business and consumer interactions - hence, an "outside-in" philosophy.

From the inside cover: "A seasoned practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience, Steve is one of industry's noted experts in Enterprise BPM and Performance transformation. He heads the Research & Professional Services network within the BP Group. ... A noted leader, Steve works as a mentor, coach and consultant and has helped pioneer through research and 'hands-on' exposure to the world's leading companies, the evolution to Advanced BPM aka 'Outside-In'. Recently recognised as a global thought leader in 'Outside-In' Steve continues to evolve process thinking towards a customer centric view of business."

The book questions the approach of traditional business processes, noting that just because we've always done something a given way, doesn't necessarily make it right. And even if we perceive that we may be doing things 'right', are they really the right things to be doing in the first place? While these concepts in themselves are not ground-breaking, the idea of fixing the causes of work instead of massaging a process to compensate for an outcome (effect), is one of the fundamental mind shifts that is presented.

We live in a world where consumers have access to more information than they can ever possibly desire. They can easily be, and quite often are, more informed than the customer service person who supplies them with whatever product or service they are sourcing. Steve suggests that, as suppliers, we need to step into the shoes of these 'pro-sumers', our customers, to understand their true need, rather than their perceived 'want'. If we understand who our customers are, their expectations, the process they think they are involved with, that everything we do impacts the customer, and what their real needs are, then we are capable of delivering 'successful customer outcomes'.

The book is an easy read, stepping us through a series of questions to make us look at things from our customer's point of view. Beyond this, the framework presented provides a foundation for organisations to question their current approach to the way their business processes are implemented. It suggests that in using this framework, simultaneous improvements can be achieved in revenue, costs and customer service - something considered a lot more challenging to achieve using previous business process improvement strategies. After all, "we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them" (Einstein).

Outside-In Examples

The steps within the presented framework are backed up with many examples, some a little more contemporary than others. While the concept of a customer centric organisation is not new, the framework presented here is the first I've seen that is sound, logical, comprehensive and practical. The list of companies cited as taking an outside-in approach is impressive, with many well known brands mentioned. Most notably these are companies that survived and even grew during the global financial crisis.

In a time when we are overloaded with information and complex challenges, I find the concepts of "Outside In" both pragmatic and refreshing. More than anything, it suggests that we need to remove our blinkers, unlearn our understanding of customer satisfaction and widen our horizon to encompass a much more comprehensive total customer experience.

Every organisation only exists to serve its customers. If you work in an organisation, and particularly if you are in a position to shape the processes within an organisation, then I would recommend that you read "Outside-In".

Service Recovery Window

For organisations providing a service to customers (ie. most organisations), there will be times when the service delivery doesn't match the customer's expectations. This occurs when the customer's expectations are not clearly understood or managed.

Organisations that are specifically service-based, differ from those that manufacture products. In both instances, there is a requirement that needs to be satisfied. However, while we can measure when a product is delivered, or if it meets a design criteria, we often struggle to quantify if a service is satisfactorily delivered. In many instances, we don't even try; we don't know how many repeat customers we have or how many went elsewhere and never return after experiencing our service.

In delivering a service to your customers, do you ask if they are satisfied? Do you do this as a matter of course? Is it part of your standard procedure? If you don't, how would you do this? What opportunities do you have to solicit their feedback?

The answers to these questions will depend in part on the actual service you are providing. The duration of the interaction you have with your customer will impact on your capacity to seek their feedback. For example, how much time do you spend with a customer in identifying their needs and then fulfilling them? After you have delivered your service, how long does your interaction with the customer last? Do they have the opportunity to assess the service and provide feedback before you break contact with them? Do you conduct any additional follow up with them?

For example, as customers, we can easily identify when a meal is not to our expectation. We can readily identify our concerns to the restaurant staff. If the fuel economy on our car is excessive following a routine service, do we identify this to our mechanic? Do we even know? If we are a tour operator, the perception of customers at the beginning of their holiday may well be different than at the end of their holiday. How do we capture that? As customers, when do we decide that a service is not adequate? It may be almost immediately, or it may be some days or even weeks later.

As a provider of services, we need to identify that our customers may not be in a position to assess our service delivery for some time. When our customer's expectations are not met, what do we need to do to recover this failure? What strategies do we have in place for effective service recovery? Do we provide a service guarantee? Is it effective?

The first rule of service quality is to do it right the first time. But we need to remain receptive to feedback and the opportunities to solicit additional feedback even after the financial transaction is completed. And when things do go wrong we need to act quickly to fix them and be in a position to provide solutions. We need to remain aware that the opportunity to fix issues has a very finite window - the service recovery window. Our capacity to provide solutions where and when they are identified is incredibly important for maintaining our customer relationships. How we manage service failures and our response, will directly impact our future business and our bottom line.

The key to minimising service failures is in having a clear understanding of our customer's (every changing) expectations. If we are actively seeking to continuously improve our service delivery, then the number of potentially dissatisfied customers should be few. At the same time, this doesn't mean that we can perceive all possible points of failure and just hoping that things won't go wrong. Rather it is necessary to have a plan of what actions we will take when service failures do occur.

To discuss customer service strategies, service recovery or placing the customer at the centre of your business, go to our contact page.

Stephen Nicholson
Principal Consultant

Advanced BPM Training

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the BP Group Certified Process Process Professional program in Brisbane. For me, this was the opportunity to follow up the three day Business Process Management Training I had previously attended in Melbourne.

As expected, there were a great group of attendees, from diverse backgrounds. Despite the various experiences, everyone present was tied to the one goal of improving business processes.
How to:
- increase revenue;
- reduce costs; and
- improve customer service.

Steve Towers demonstrated proven, practical methods and tools for advanced business process improvement and realising the above benefits by refocusing on successful customer outcomes (SCOs) using an "Outside In" strategy.

As one of the attendees in Brisbane has commented -
"I still find it incredible that in this conventional information and process rich world we live in that we can look at what we do in a slightly different but totally logical way and the picture changes (so) dramatically." Charles Bennett, Managing Partner & Project Director at IBS Publishing

Many companies say that they are "customer focused", but most fail to really put themselves in their customers' shoes and deliver real solutions for their customers' needs. This is where the methods and tools of the Certified Process Professional (CPP) Program can make a tangible difference to how you look at the business processes in your organisation.

If you are looking to improve your own professional skills in business process management and business process improvement, then I would recommend the Advanced Business Process Methods and Techniques of the Business Process Professional program by BP Group.

Stephen Nicholson
Certified Process Professional - Master

Search for other BPM and Outside In postings on this site.

Do businesses need to change their business process management strategy?

If you are unaware, there is a groundswell occurring in the business process management arena. Business analysts and business process management practitioners are leading us in a new direction - one of "customer centricity" or "outside-in".

Particularly since the 1980s, businesses have been bombarded with various methods of business process improvement and quality management, including Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM), Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), Lean, Business Process Management (BPM), etc. And now we are presented with "Advanced BPM (ABPM)", "Outside-In" and "Customer Expectation Management (CEM)".

Do we really need yet another new strategy in business process management and performance improvement? Is this just another fad? Why should we adopt yet another strategy or set of tools to manage our businesses?

When we first tried to impose structure and strategy to our businesses and workflow, the world was a much simpler place. We focused on just getting the work done and doing as much of it as possible. The volume of output was often seen as the measure of business success.

Today, the difference is that we, as consumers, have changed. We now have more choice, are more informed and have greater expectations than ever before.

The way we conduct our business, along with the changes in customer expectations, are the reasons why we need to change the way we manage our business processes. We no longer have the luxury of just "telling them and they will buy". Companies are differentiating themselves by placing themselves in their customer's shoes. In doing so, they are opening their businesses to greater success through reductions in cost, increases in revenue, and improvements in customer service.

Does this mean that the old process management tools are no longer valid? Do we have to scrap them and start again? I don't think so. They still hold value and many remain very necessary within our businesses.

What we do need to review is the focus of our businesses, and therefore the tools we use in business process improvement.

What do you think?

BPM Systems