1. Peter Schooff
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  3. Thursday, February 16 2017, 09:51 AM
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From Ian Gotts: Does using the word "process" turn customers off. Should we be talking about operational excellence, customer success or something else? What is the best way of engaging potential customers?
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer
I think it depends on the type of customers you are planning to engage with: small customers may be turned off by "process", but mid and large customers are usually in familiar territory, since this is part of their internal conversations for a long time.
Chances are that, especially for mid-customers, using pretentious wording and claims will create an aura of "expensive consultant" around your initial engagement.
The best way to engage the customers is to show them very clearly how much value you add to their particular case/process. And then value can take a lot of forms, but it's definitely not in the right consulting words for "process".
Managing Founder, profluo.com
Steve Weissman Accepted Answer
The answer likely depends upon to whom you are talking. More senior executives are the "What do we need to do" people, and they want to talk about outcomes, articulated in the way seen in your question, Lower-level folks, though, are "How do we do this" people, and the answer here often is very much a function of process.
Patrick Lujan Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
No. "Process," "operational excellence" and "customer success" are not mutually exclusive, nor is any of them warranted any undue weight unless the client specifically states so because they have a specific need or problem with one of those aspects.

Best way of engaging potential customers? "Tell me what you need to do, tell me what the problem is, tell me your pain."
i feel like this is the star trek movie ... "tell me your pain!" :)
  1. Scott Francis
  2. 4 days ago
David Chassels Accepted Answer
NO! Process is a simple description applied to activity to create required information and outcomes. Business understands that and has been in existence since business started....? Maybe it is IT who do not get it as they tend to focusing on "processing" related to volumes of data being "processed". Interesting neither of these words appear to be used in BPM language?
As for the other words they are big picture objectives to be addressed in the process. Engage the customer by explaining how the BPM software is going to actually deliver...not using vendor marketing hype!
Operational staff in most industry areas relate positively to "best practice processes" or simply "best practices". Senior management sleeps better at night knowing that the organization uses "best practices".

Any doubts? Ask Martha Stewart, who will confirm that "Processes are a good thing"

A reasonable presumption is that consistent use of "best practices" leads to increased staff efficiency, increased throughput, decreased errors, & improved compliance with internal and external rules and regulations, all of which leads to improved outcomes,

Note "consistent" as opposed to "rigid" - knowledge workers relate positively to background orchestration. They relate negatively to a feeling they are not empowered.

In Case, we can build-in governance upstream from steps, at steps, within steps, and on the way out of steps, so we take care of extreme, unwanted deviation away from "best practices".

The opposite to consistent use of "best practices" would be consistent use of "worst practices" - who would want that?

Once you have a process that has a certain complexity, you cannot, without BPM, expect to make consistent use of that process unless

1) it is totally automated
2) the process is in-line providing background orchestration and some governance to its users.

Note "in-line" . . . . off-line, on-line, will not do.

Your processes have to be "in-line" (real-time orchestration). [ read no staring at paper process maps ].

Your run-time system (Case or equivalent) has to provide the balance of governance needed to comply with corporate policy/procedure and external rules and regulations.
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer
Agree with Patrick. Operational excellence, Customer success is the result of a process. Not the same.

Of course process is a very general term, but it is the means to do what you promise for a customer.

So when I am helping my customers with process things, I hardly ever use the word process, but translate it as fast as possible to what they are doing there.

To define their processes, my first questions are:

- What problems do you solve for your customers?
- What products or services do you deliver to solve those problems?

Ok, let's take a look at how you do that and what you need for that. Oh yes, some people call that a process.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
John Morris Accepted Answer
From a sales perspective it's wise to use the vocabulary the customer wants to use! (Except if the customer's vocabulary is not up to the job, and then there's an opportunity for leadership.)

On the other hand, as @David forcefully expressed, "process" is the word which describes the activity of business. So let's use the right word. The other terms, like "operational excellence" are outcomes, hopefully. Note that desiring outcomes without being willing to own the work, i.e. the process, is magical thinking. There's more than enough of that to go around.

Consider the terminology of accounting and finance. Some people are intimidated by accounting and finance. Should senior execs therefore give up talking about cashflow and working capital? And should operational staff stop talking about debits and credits? A domain vocabulary is necessary pre-condition for serious domain work.

Process is the word that concerns the work of business. Using the word process opens the door to thinking systematically about organization, automation and the work of business. That's the opposite of magical thinking.

My sense is that we are inexorably moving to a world where the insides of what has been the "black box of work" will be more and more owned by the organization and its leadership.

Might as well get used to talking about process.
Scott Francis Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
An interesting experiment is to not use any of our favorite buzz words : bpm, process, operational excellence, etc. And just talk with customers. Listen to them, learn about their business. Learn about their people. Learn about their goals and objectives and imperatives. And then imagine how you can help. And socialize that with them. Or ask them.

Sometime they might ask you, hey, how did you know to do A, B, C? Or what do you call that tool you just used to diagram order fulfillment? "Oh that?" you say, "that's just a think we call process, or Business Process Management. It's a means to an end to understand, collaborate, and improve your business."

Well, it's one thought :)
Great outline Scott about what is no doubt a pattern for working with customers successfully. Let's extend the experiment however to the parallel world of accounting and finance. We could follow the same pattern to elicit customer accounting and finance needs. But at some point, customers have to step up and master accounting and finance appropriate for their responsibilities. The exploration of customer needs using only customer language precludes real understanding of more challenging accounting and finance issues. I have the same fear about our reluctance to get customers to step up around process. There is real content to process thinking that can be used successfully. The participants in this forum are all involved with powerful process technology products -- there's a role for leadership in letting the light of process thinking shine. : )
  1. John Morris
  2. 4 days ago
Boris Zinchenko Accepted Answer
‘Process’ is exact and rigorous term to describe a sequence of business operations. Precision is always important to avoid dubious expectations from a client. Precise technical words should be used in all project discussions to highlight professional level and awareness on the subject.

Operational Excellence, Customer Success and other clichés look good in promotional materials to illustrate benefits of BPM to higher management and describe expected business results. They are essential to formulate project value from stakeholders’ viewpoint.

We should use both types of terminology depending on context of discussion. Discussion on business goals for a project should emphasize result-oriented business vocabulary. Technical discussion with implementation team should focus on ‘processes’ and other technical terms.

The usage of all these terms should be complimentary for universal coverage of BPM subject, rather than prohibitive to either accent.
Kevin Parker Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
We lose the plot when we substitute a euphemism for a perfectly understandable word. The tendency of corporations to use words like "passenger", "shopper" and "guest" instead of "customer" switches the emphasis of the service delivered to a corporate-context instead of a customer-centric one. The same thing goes for "process". Optimizing, automating or documenting a process is something we feel viscerally, we know what to do, we know how to do it. Being asked to deliver "operational excellence" or "customer success" is too nebulous, where does one start, what are the boundaries, how do you measure completion and success? We need to keep our goals and our processes as separate things.
  1. https://biztechfuturist.com/2015/10/13/i-am-a-customer-i-do-not-need-any-other-title/
The thing is you can go to great lengths to design and put in place what you think is "good:" CRM, only to be outdone by a seemingly minor fail in CEM (something entirely under the control of the customer).

I remember phoning the Campbell Soup Company years ago - I had a question, I received a proper answer but, then, after I thanked the rep, he said "Have a nice Campbell's day".

This put me over the edge - I did not buy any of their products for about 20 years. It was painful, trying to avoid strange looks at dinner parties, where I would ask "Are you sure this is not Campbell soup?" .

I eventually got over it. I hope, for their sake, they have changed the way they terminate phone calls.
One of the more ridiculous tags for "patient" is "consumer"

"health care consumer
any actual or potential recipient of health care, such as a patient in a hospital, a client in a community mental health center, or a member of a prepaid health maintenance organization."

is anyone under the illusion that calling a patient a consumer somehow reduces the severity of whatever problem(s) they have?

John Cleese figured it out . . .

view (short clip)

John Cleese on How “Stupid People Have No Idea How Stupid They Are” (a.k.a. the Dunning-Kruger Effect)

Larry Hawes Accepted Answer
I had a briefing with Alfresco today, and they used the term "business flow". I haven't heard that one before, but really like it, because it captures both the notion of process and the larger objective -- to accelerate the pace (and outcomes) of doing business.
Alfresco? They're still around? ;)
  1. Patrick Lujan
  2. 4 days ago
...and successfully strangling Activiti :)
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 3 days ago
Conceptually, I am with Kevin “our goals and our processes as separate things”. Just repeating my comment from our previous discussion – making everything explicit (i.e. separation between goals and processes, WHY and HOW) allows finding gaps.

Practically, it is obvious that we have to use different explanations in different terms for different stakeholders.

And, essentially, never ever assume that different stakeholders know, use and agree with your “exact and rigorous” definition of the concept ‘process’.

Agree as well it's important, except for standalone end-to-end processes, that there be a separation of goals from processes.

Once a consultant/customer reaches a stage where they acknowledge that work typically is a mix of structured and unstructured steps, there comes a realization that processes are designed plan-side whereas goals/objectives need to be run-time attributes of Cases.
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