Implementing a Lean Front-End  How Do You Measure Success?

Learn how front-end process optimization contributes to establishing a customer-centric value stream, and use the following KPIs to measure the success of your company's lean front-end initiative and its impact on overall business performance.


A key industry analyst predicts that information technology spending by small to midsize businesses will increase by about 6 percent in 2004 and be driven primarily by projects designed to improve business processes and customer satisfaction, rather than cost savings alone. High on the list of IT priorities are Web applications, intranets, self-service extranets, portals, e-business and B2B e-commerce. Lean thinking and implementing a comprehensive lean front-end solution may be the most profitable way of all to chart continuous improvement of these critical business processes.

SIDEBAR: Implementing a Lean Front-End Solution: Ongoing Value Realization is the Goal

In evaluating existing front-end business processes for improvement, consider the potential objectives:

* Sales representatives and distributors instantly generate quotes online in the field, without support from the sales and engineering teams.

* Every quote is generated at least 50 percent faster and with 100 percent accuracy, and quotes are converted to orders with one simple click.

* Orders are submitted online and flow "hands-off" from customers or channels to the enterprise system and shop floor, with no intervention.

* Quotation costs drop 20 to 70 percent, order entry costs plummet by 50 to 80 percent, and fulfillment cycle times improve by 50 percent or more.

* Over 80 percent of customer service inquiries are resolved quickly through self-service over the Web.

* Up to 75 percent of printing and distribution costs for catalogs, technical bulletins and price sheets are eliminated.

These are just a few of the value-based benefits reported as a result of front-end process optimization. Following are some of the steps involved in evaluating, defining, mapping and implementing a lean front-end strategy and solution.

* Start by mapping the entire sales process value stream from initial customer inquiry to order. Include your sales channels (e.g. reps, distributors) and map the flow from the customer backward. Identify waste and causes of errors.

* Gather direct input from the customer and/or distributor. Get their perspective on your current service levels. Don't assume that you know how happy your customers are with your responsiveness and the quality of information you provide them. Ask them how you can get better.

* Map your current systems and sales tools. Evaluate how well they support your current sales process and how well they support efficient information flow during the quoting, ordering, and customer service processes.

* Consider how Web technology can help you make improvements not possible in a traditional paper-based process paradigm. Design the future state value stream while considering how you can apply Web technology to make radical breakthroughs in the process. Paper processing, data re-entry and faxing are all inherent forms of waste that Web technology can help to eliminate. If you don't consider technology then you can only go so far in eliminating waste. It is like redesigning an airport check-in without considering the possibility of self-service kiosks.

* Establish a detailed project plan and project organization with clear roles and responsibilities. Make it clear who has to do what and when to keep the project on-track. Dedicate the right resources to the project and hold frequent check-ups with senior management to address any issues.

* Rapidly prototype a Web-based solution and iterate based on pilot user feedback. Involve key customers, distributors, sales and engineering staff in the pilot, so that all process participants needs are required. Use this feedback to tailor the solution before a broad roll-out.

* After you go-live, track improvement metrics to measure success and drive continuous improvement. During the initial value stream analysis, be sure to establish baseline metrics based on the current state process so that you can accurately track the project and measure improvements over time.

  • Enhance Your Experience.

    When you register for SDCExec.com you stay connected to the pulse of the industry by signing up for topic-based e-newsletters and information. Registering also allows you to quickly comment on content and request more infomation.

Already have an account? Click here to Log in.

Enhance Your Experience.

When you register for SDCExec.com you stay connected to the pulse of the industry by signing up for topic-based e-newsletters and information. Registering also allows you to quickly comment on content and request more infomation.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required