Is your business at a crossroads right now where change is essential for continued progress? Successful businesses embrace change and understand the need for continued improvement to remain at the top of the market.
Now that you’ve identified a need, another question emerges, “How do I get started?” This article explains how to build a strategic vision to gain executive buy-in and kick-start your process improvement efforts.
Build a Case for Process Improvement
Building the case for process improvement and change is one of the first and most important tasks. It is not uncommon to find that companies feel there is a need for improvement, but they have difficulty articulating or quantifying the need for change.
To achieve strong commitment from senior leaders, you must define a business need that matters to the organization and develop a business case with a strong ROI. Be sure to focus on balancing short vs long-term benefits to gain financial commitment. In this manner, you will speak the executive language and create buy-in.
To create a compelling strategic vision, you need to conduct an initial assessment whereby you:
- Identify the key areas of focus
- Collect voice of the customer data
- Quantify the cost of poor quality
Identify Key Areas of Focus
Begin by identifying key areas to focus on that will have the greatest impact on improving customer experience and/or your company’s bottom-line. To get started, examine key financial and other performance metrics.
Do you see any troubling trends? Perhaps expenses are growing faster than revenues. Perhaps errors or defects are slowing production. Maybe your customer satisfaction data is dropping. Find an area of focus that matters to your company’s mission and performance.
Collect Voice of the Customer Data
Once you have your key areas identified, collect voice of the customer data.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Too often, we see an organization’s employees think they know what customers need and want. Or they think they know what the problems are. You must determine the way your customer is experiencing your products and services, NOT how you as a company or employees are experiencing it. This is called outside-in thinking (thinking as a customer) vs inside-out thinking (thinking as a company).
Depending on the situation, these data might exist in your organization, or they might not. We suggest using Net Promoter Score, a very effective sampling process, to collect the right kind of voice of the customer data—data that quantify how your customer is experiencing your company. This doesn’t have to be time-consuming or a drain on resources. It can be done easily in a relatively short amount of time.
Quantify the Cost of Poor Quality
During the final step of your assessment, it is important to quantify the cost of poor quality. In some cases, this is easy to identify (e.g.warranty cost, waste) but in other cases it is less obvious.
To build your business case, you definitely want to partner with someone from the finance department. This serves two purposes. First, internal finance experts know your organization’s metrics, overhead costs, and other key information that will help create a case for the economic impact of your proposed project. Second, by partnering with a finance expert to quantify the cost of poor-quality, your data will gain instant credibility.
Hard dollar savings and/or keeping expenses flat while revenues grow both lead to improved margins and are the most obvious forms of return. Increased revenue and customer experience improvements are also ways to build a business case. One way to quantify customer experience improvements is to find a way to link them back to repeat and referral business.
Start Making Progress
By conducting this initial assessment, you will create a compelling strategic vision for improvement with a defined problem statement of customer experience and a financial business case. Utilize your vision to gain company-wide support and commitment for process improvement.Learn More About How to Build Your Strategic Vision for Improvement