I’ve just finished up several months of research digging into the best practices of how leading organizations aspire to implement outside-in, customer-focused, cross-functional processes that transform the organization and set it on the path toward continuous improvement. At the core of this trend is a desire by these organizations, especially in services industries, to domesticate their “untamed” or “invisible” processes that touch customers.
In talking with nearly 30 organizations, consulting companies, and solution vendors, I found that instead of deploying slow-to-change packaged applications or building difficult-to-change custom solutions, leading organizations are embracing business process methodologies — supported by process-centric IT platforms. They are striving to drive rapid process change, increased business engagement in IT projects, and achieve dramatic improvements in worker productivity.
In my new report, I define more than 30 best practices that organizations can use to support their transition to process-centric customer CRM. Here are few of them:
- Understand the degree of cross-process and cross-system coordination required. Workers using CRM technology sometimes have to access four or five different interface screens to carry out a single business process transaction. Workflow tools within CRM products rarely support cross-system activity well.
- Don’t think of CRM, BPMS, and DCM as disparate systems. Look at your solution holistically rather than as individual tools. CRM excels at managing customer data, whereas business process management suite (BPMS) solutions combine the disciplines for managing business processes with the enabling technology to facilitate their design and delivery. Dynamic case management (DCM) business applications allow organizations to handle both routine and unpredictable cases. The complete solution may require combining the elements of each type.
- Articulate a compelling vision from the customer’s perspective. Anchor the vision for process improvement in the organization’s value proposition and the customer experience. Try to work backward from the outcomes that different categories of customers might expect and use these insights to define at target operating model (TOM). A TOM is a representation of how an organization operates across process, organization, and technology domains to deliver customer value.
- Take an iterative and Agile approach to process improvement. Agile project management and software development refers a group of development methodologies that are based on principles of iterative development, where requirements evolve through collaboration between a self-organizing cross-functional team. All too often, businesspeople have become accustomed to an IT-led “waterfall” project approach: All functionality is specified up front and usually delivered many months — or even years — down the line. As a result, businesspeople attempt to imagine every nuance of the desired functionality in “to-be” work sessions as they try to pack everything into an initial release. BPM thinking takes the exact opposite approach: New versions of the process are rolled out frequently and quickly.
- Senior management needs to lead with a clear vision and concrete plan. The organization’s senior leadership must remain intimately involved with any major change initiative, whether it’s a functional change, an enterprise change from an acquisition, or a desire to re-engineer the business processes that touch customers.