Peter Drucker famously said that the purpose of business is to "create and keep customers." We could not agree more. We realize that a customer doesn’t become a customer by having a CIO with a budget write a check. While that certainly contributes to the bottom line, what Professor Drucker is talking about, and what we value, is the ability to work with organizations with whom we can form a relationship -- one where both parties learn from and contribute to one another.
Identifying a need is not, however, the most essential aspect of developing a customer. We can certainly make the case that every company would do well with their business process improvement (BPI) -- and that we, of course, have a BPM software and workflow management software solution that will do just that. Providing a working solution then moving on to the next ‘opportunity’ does not a customer make. What we look for is not just the need, but also the willingness to work together to define the viable solution.
The first step in arriving at that solution is readiness. Readiness is more than a desire to improve. Organizations with whom we have worked have shown not just a willingness to implement a solution, but have also prepared themselves to ‘modify’ the way they operate their business processes. That preparation is what we call "readiness" -- and that aspect of the customer life cycle (preparing to be change and doing the necessary things in order to change) is probably the single best indicator of potential success.
The following factors, and the ability to address them, usually help organizations determine how ‘ready’ they are to tackle existing problems and move forward with innovative solutions:
- Redundancy: Is your organization currently using multiple systems to assess and process the same information? Are you prepared to identify and use a single, optimized tool for data collection and processing?
- Identification: Is there a clear understanding in your organization about roles and tasks? If not, can you create a model that aligns tasks, people and expectations?
- Task assignment: In order to keep processes and tasks moving forward, how do you currently address tasks and task review? Can you identify specific responsibility for specific tasks?
- Approval process: Is there clear definition as to who reviews and approves tasks? Are you able to change the nature of your organization so that approvals and decision-making can be handled by identified individuals and/or groups?
- Productivity: Is there a loop in which decisions and actions keep getting routed and delayed? Is it possible to assign specific individuals with authority to make decisions and advance the process?
As someone interested in making your organization more efficient, thinking through these issues will help you understand how ready you truly are – or are not. And it's worth noting that any organization can take concepts, BPM solutions and workflow solutions and apply them -- but without a buy-in and a willingness to change, it will be a far greater challenge.
This is the essence of what a customer really is to BP Logix: not an individual or committee interested in just buying our product, but one who has shown a willingness to work with us to create truly effective solution-- for them. And we know they won't stop there. They will recognize that as their needs change and new challenges arise, they will continue to reach out to us to find new ways to work together to adapt to a changing environment.
And that's what Drucker was talking about: addressing an organization’s ability AND its readiness. That's how we create and retain customers -- and help them to do what they do, better.
--Marti Colwell, VP of Marketing and Business Development