I spend quite a lot of time reading about different BPM approaches, different opinions and different points of views.
Some are more interesting than others, some are bolder than others, some I agree with and some I don’t.
But all of them make you stop and think, revalidate you assumptions.
One of them is the ‘Outside-In’ approach.
‘Outside-In’ is more of a philosophy than a methodology.
‘Inside-Out’ BPM tends to concentrate on what’s going on inside the enterprise,
‘Outside-In’ BPM looks at the customer experience.
The core premise of Outside-In is that adding new value to customers presents the only sustainable way to continue adding new value to the company. To create new customer value, Outside-in rethinks the company from the customer in―first aligning strategies with customers; next aligning process to customer-focused strategies; then aligning technology to customer-focused process.
The best explanation that I found on the ‘Outside-In’ approach is the Interview with Steve Towers, CEO & Founder of BP Group
And if you’re interested there is a list of Outside-In resources here
Criticism of the Outside-In approach
I’m still not convinced.
Am I missing the point here, the bigger picture, the enlightenment?
I agree that when designing business processes you should always think of the customer – the end result, it’s just common sense.
“Organisations are not truly customer-centric. If they just build processes around the customer – they will succeed…”
It sounds a bit simplistic.
Not all of the organisation’s business processes are customer related. Some are internal processes, some are required by law, and some are interactions with internal systems.
Making everything customer experience oriented is not always good for the customer.
Investing in great customer support desk processes instead of investing in QA processes might make customers happy in the short term, but will cause them grief in the long term.
Some of the slogans used seem to me a bit out of touch with the real hardships of business process management.
* Is this process right, or is it the right process?
* Be Optimistic. Feint heart never won fair lady
* The Customer Experience is the Process
It’s like saying “Keep it simple”. It’s a nice phrase, and makes sense, but how do you implement it? What are the actions needed? (and don’t tell me that it’s just a mindset…)
Outside-In suggests that in using this framework, simultaneous improvements can be achieved in revenue, costs and customer service. If I remember correctly CRM marketing uses these “added values” slogans also, so does ECM, ERP, SOA, CMS and my local supermarket.
I’ve yet to see real numbers.
Nick Malik had this to say in his post “Creating context between BPM and EA”
The key observation from this combination is that “Outside-In” BPM is really all about providing ideas for improvement, but if those ideas are not fed in to the executive pipeline, and don’t result in a formal strategy from the business, then they are not part of the focus that the business is asking for. In other words, if an executive says “we should focus resources on creating new products,” she is not going to be happy to hear someone say “but we should focus on improving customer experience instead!” The result of that conversation is obvious: “I’ll back that, if you don’t spend any money on it.”
“Southwest Airlines, Apple and Best Buy represent mature approaches to BPM adopting outside-in viewpoints”
It’s nice to see big successful companies used as examples of Outside-In success, but I’m not sure these companies owe all their success to Outside-In, and not to their good products, good business decisions, good timing, or innovative business models.
I’m a bit surprised that other customer-centric organisations were not mentioned.
How about the Banks for example – very customer-centric. A customer wants a mortgage but probably can’t repay it – give it. The customer is always right. Audit processes and regulation are internal processes – forget them. (…maybe we should blame Outside-In for the credit crunch… ;-> )
Here is a few more companies that embraced the customer experience approach and didn’t get a mention: Pan-Am, Swissair, Napster, Woolworths, Sharper Image, Planet Hollywood and Portsmouth_F.C. – RIP
Ok.. I got carried away with the cynicism here… my apologies.. but the point I’m trying to make is that successful outcomes is not a result of an outside-in approach, (nor inside-out by the way) – it’s finding the right balance.
I think my frustration here is that after reading and reading on the subject – I couldn’t find the action items, the physical steps that are needed to make this work.
Maybe the action is to keep building your process as before, but don’t stop at your regular end-point. Continue it to include the customer.
I’ll finish off with Thomas Olbrich‘s brilliant presentation explaining the concept of customer focused processes