I'm married to a hospital administration professor, so I hear a lot about process and quality improvement in hospitals. It's an entire field, focused on the critical aspects of delivering high-quality health care services. Of course, it's easy to see why a hospital's focus on improving processes has a direct effect on saving lives and keeping people safe. It's critical!
As I've watched the way hospitals focus on improving their processes, it's gratifying to see professional- and business-to-business service companies beginning to focus on their own process improvements. PSFs' and B2Bs' focus on go-to-market process improvements can be every bit as important to their own survival.
You might say it's easier to institute new effectiveness and efficiencies in hospitals, especially if the services being delivered can be repeatable. You might say the services of many professions are simply too customized to be mapped and therefore streamlined.
I think, instead, the functions of marketing, business development and even client service delivery are ripe for a good long look at the principles of process improvement. Although I'm not saying we need to squeeze out the creativity or flexibility of marketing, business development and client service, it's clear that these functions labor under numerous preventable organizational silos.
I offer two pieces of evidence about the state of the PSF and B2B industry's thinking on these functions' process improvements. First, now that I'm putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for my upcoming book, The Integration Imperative, I can say unequivocally that there are numerous examples now emerging of professional service firms that are making strong strides toward improving their go-to-market process effectiveness. Of the book's 11 case studies about how PSFs and B2Bs are integrating marketing and business development, five cases are about process.
As a second example, take a look at this article showing the work of the Legal Sales and Services Organization (LSSO). LSSO has created a certification program for process improvement in law firms and legal departments. The article gives you a sense of the scope of the process issues that any professional or B2B service firm could work on.
Especially now, with marketplace effectiveness such a critical issue, ask yourself how well your professional firm is doing at implementing its marketing and selling processes. Could your firm be more efficient, more effective?
I'll bet it could.
Share your process improvement successes -- and failures -- with me, either here as a blog post comment, or as a separate e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.