Business Processes –Chaos or Predictable Results


Most successful companies are established with the objective to profitably satisfy a customers need for a physical product or a service in a particular market. One could think of a company as a matrix of business processes established to support the company’s objective. Looking at a business from this perspective completely changes how business processes are viewed. They are no longer a necessary evil, they are the foundation of a successful company.


So what is a business process. A business process is a coordinated set of actions that are carried out to achieve a specified business purpose. Following business processes allows a company to get a predictable result based on a known set of inputs. This predictability is required for a company to achieve its objective. What would happen if a company did not have this predictability. Lets imagine a company’s payroll process and make the following assumptions


Each time the payroll process ran

  • The pay period was based on the Company’s cash balance
  • The process did include agreed to withholdings for savings, insurance, and taxes
  • Wage rates changed without communication
  • Direct deposits were made on a random basis


Although these assumptions are nonsensical they make a point. Without business processes that drive predictable results a company will experience CHAOS !!! In our payroll example employees will leave, internal reporting will drive bad or prevent decisions, insurance companies will cancel policies , and government agencies will have a field day and go wild.


I’m going to make a bold statement, “a company is only as good as its business processes and in fact any business process, overtime, any can prevent a company from achieving its objective. Consider that a small business will have 50 to 100 business processes and large multinational company will have thousands of business processes. Let’s assume each of the large multinational company business flows has a few minor flaws that are insignificant in the isolated business process. Now consider what the cumulative effect of these flaws will be, when each business process infects thousands of other interrelated business processes with its flaws. The impact of these flaws in not predictable. Business processes without predictable business results will negatively impact a companies’ ability achieve its objective and CHAOS will creep into a company as a cancer. I believe that establishing effective, predictable business processes will avoid chaos and provide the foundation for a company to achieve its business objectives.


A business process is a coordinated set of actions that are carried out to achieve a specified purpose. Following processes allows a company to get a predictable result based on a known set of inputs. A business process usually has 5 elements ;An Owner, Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Customers. I will use the payroll process to describe these element.


Process Owner

The Person, Organization or Department who is responsible for the management of the Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Customer satisfaction of the payroll process.





  • Available Money
  • Number of hours worked for each employee
  • Wage per hour
  • Payroll period
  • Withholdings calculations for 401K, Savings, Insurance and Taxes
  • Social Security #
  • Employee #
  • Employee Department #
  • Bank Information



  • Calculate gross wages, 401K withholding and matching, insurance withholdings, and taxes due, etc.
  • Ensure adequate funds are in the bank
  • Distribute wages, withholdings, and taxes to various stakeholders



  • A payroll deposit or physical paycheck
  • A reconciliation of gross pay to net pay
  • Deposits in savings, insurance agency and governmental bank accounts
  • Regulatory and business required reports



  • Employee
  • Bank
  • Government Entities
  • Insurance Companies
  • Finance / Accounting Department
  • Employee managers



The above examples of Process Owners, Inputs, Activities and Outputs are understandable and easily transferred to other types of business processes. The definition of a customer requires a bit more explaining. A customer is a person, organization or entity that uses or relies on an outcome of a particular business process. There are two types of customers for a business process ;an external customer is a person, organization or entity outside the business, such as an entity that is paying for a product or service, a 3rd party supplier or a governmental organization; an internal customer is an employee, manager, another department or organization inside a company. In order for a business process to be effective (and avoid chaos) it must satisfy the agreed to needs of all external and internal customers. Business processes must be flexible because customer’s needs are always changing. In addition if you are a member of a company your are most likely both a supplier and consumer of at least one business process.


Customer needs should be documented in a Customer Service Agreement (CSA), which identifies and documents the customer’s needs that will be satisfied by the process owner, as well as the metrics that will be used to measure the level of compliance with the agreement. In order to avoid future conflicts or misunderstanding the CSA should be as detailed a possible.


I plan on several blog posts concerning business processes, so stay tuned. What points do I want you to take away from this post

  • A business process is a coordinated set of actions that are carried out to achieve a specified purpose.
  • A business process usually has 5 elements ; An Owner, Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Customers.
  • Business processes should not be viewed as a necessary evil. In fact they are the foundation to a company achieving its business objectives.
  • To be effective a business process must result in a predictable outcomes based on known set of inputs and satisfy all customers needs
  • A business process usually has 2 types of customers, internal and external
  • A company is only as good as its business processes and in fact any business process, overtime, any can prevent a company from achieving its objective.
  • Process Owners and Customers should use Customer service agreements



Personalization Creates Relevance and Drives ROI

I always appreciate a handwritten card or letter. To me it seems more personal or sincere than a text or email containing the same words. I find it engages me more, I read it slower, and I remember the message longer. I appreciate the effort. It seems that consumers have a similar perception when comparing a personalized ad/communication to a generic one. In fact, according to a Yahoo study, when comparing personalized ads/communications to generic ads/communication, the study found that

  • 54% of consumers believed personalized communication was more engaging
  • 52% of consumers perceived that they were more likely to learn something new with personalized communication
  • 45 % of consumers felt personalized communication was more memorable

The fact that personalized communication creates greater perceived relevance or engagement, is important, given the growing body of evidence that consumers are developing unfavorable attitudes concerning poorly targeted or irrelevant communication.

Personalization has its risks though. One always needs to remain highly sensitive to the perception of invading a consumer’s privacy. Although, over 60% of the above survey respondents indicated that they were not opposed to having traditional marketing information collected.

According to a published Econsultancy report about 6 in 10 company marketers believed that personalized content is fundamental to their strategy. That being said, company marketers believe that the type of personal information impacts ROI .   The following chart illustrates the relative value that marketers place on specific data.

Data Type % of Companies Saying This Data Has High Impact on ROI % of Companies That Gather and Use This Data
Purchase history 74 38
User Preferences 70 45
Interactions with Brand History 65 32
Personal Data 54 65

The above chart also highlights an issue. There is a significant discount between the relative impact on ROI and the % of companies that are gathering the information believed to have the most ROI value. As an example 74% of companies believe that purchase history information significantly impacts ROI yet only 32% collect and use it. I believe this disconnect is driven by the plain fact that systematically collecting and validating this information is difficult.

How would a company collect this information? One alternative to accurately capturing this information is to start from scratch and invest in an integrated system that collects all information from various channels and at various points in the sales and marketing pipeline in a central depository and then create processes to cleanse the data. I’m unaware of a off the shelf integrated system available today that can achieve this objective. It would probably need to be a custom system and could be cost prohibitive. Over the last 15 years companies have invested in point solutions that solve an urgent pain point in the sales and marketing funnel and collects valuable data. Unfortunately point solutions create isolated data islands with limited capability to share information. It is not uncommon for companies to have numerous isolated data islands. An alternative to developing a custom system from scratch is building data bridges between the isolated data islands, hoping to create an integrated view of the consumers information. Due to architectural differences, data dictionary variations, lack of IT resources, and corporate politics on who should drive the effort, companies are struggling to effectively build the required data bridges. The cost of ownership in integrating, maintaining, and updating a system of data bridges between data islands is going to be extremely high.

An inadequate or disconnected infrastructure is risky because it will result in data integrity that is less than acceptable. Personalizing a customer communication with the wrong information is going to have a significantly negative impact on customer engagement.

A significant amount of infrastructure still needs to be developed to accurately capture and use personal information that consistently results in a high ROI. But when a company gets it right it can have a tremendous impact. An Econsultancy study of global company marketers indicated that since implementing a personalization program 32% of the companies in the survey experienced a major shift in search engine marketing conversion rates while 60% indicated a minor uplift.

When developing a personalized campaign it is imperative that the data is correct!! Once you are over the data integrity hurdle your campaign should ensure the following

  • The campaign inspires engagement or action
  • The personalization is noticeable
  • The communication is appropriately timed in the engagement cycle
  • The campaign is leveraging the consumers preferred communication channel


While hand written notes and letters may be becoming a bygone era, personalization is here to stay and in an ever more competitive world will have a significant impact on ROI and revenue growth rates. The question we all need to face is how are we going to collect, store, analyze, cleanse and use the information in a fashion that drives the highest ROI?


The answers to your revenue growth questions are found within your sales organization

Today’s sales leaders are under increasing pressure to be more effective, efficient and increase the ROI of the sales force. Many successful leaders are finding the answers with their existing sales organizations. Most sale organizations have their are top performers. the top performers excel because they understand the complete value proposition(s) of a company’s product or service and communicate it to a buyers team in the correct format, at the appropriate time and through the correct channel. They usually also prioritize following up and keeping the buyers team engaged throughout the sales funnel.
Progressive sales leaders are ensuring that the activities and processes of the top performers are no longer being kept a secret; they are broadcasting them throughout the sales organization. The goal is to get the bottom 80% of the sales force to act like the top 20%. Easy right…wrong! Sales organizations need better ways to preserve and leverage collective expertise. A successful sales function will transform into a continuously learning organization, that continuously improves its processes, and ROI. A company who provides its top producers the tools to easily share their know-how and measure adherence to prescribed activities will lift the performance of the entire team.
Tools and software are becoming available to make it simpler to systematically follow and automate the top sellers practices. The tools are not yet broadly used but deployment will advance quickly when the exponential improvement in conversion rates and ROI are more broadly understood. Although the term for these tools is loosely defined, I label them Sales Enablement and Automation (SEA) technology. Utilizing these tools, a sales organization can use the knowledge of its top performers and create a Company Specific Benchmark Sales Process (CSBSP) that includes measurement tools to highlight what is working and what is not. Armed with this quantitative data the sales team can intelligently and continuously improve its CSBSP driving improved ROI. The CSBSP ensures that the sales team is effective by engaging in the benchmark sales processes and messaging but standardizing processes allows automation which drives significant efficiency. The SEA tools, processes, and mindset will systematically result in sales professionals having more thoughtful and extensive dialogues with prospects throughout the sales funnel and by using best practices will convert today’s prospect into a loyal customer.

Major Changes Underway to Sales Strategies

The Internet, digital marketing, marketing automation, CRM, fundamental changes in business structure, and significantly higher customer expectations have made the traditional sales model virtually obsolete.

Traditional sales professionals were 2 parts personality and one part knowledge. Historically, product knowledge was unique to the company, therefore handled by internal training, and was the crown jewel of the sales force. The role of sales was ingratiate the buyer and communicate the features and functionality of a product to a comparatively less educated buyer.

Today’s buyers are cross-functional teams, empowered with access to timely and relevant product information. Consequently when a sales professional meets a buyer, the buyer has likely explored several competitive options and developed strong opinions about the products or services several companies offer.

Although these buyers are competent professionals, their opinions may have been arrived at without an appropriate contextual framework or a complete understanding of a company’s offerings. Without a well-trained sales force, armed with benchmark sales processes, tools and communication protocols, the buyer may never truly understand the value proposition of your product or service.

A Forrester Insight Study found that only 13% of executive buyers believe current sales professionals can clearly show that they understand the executive’s business issues and articulate a way to solve them.

The sales professional today interacts with a cross functional team of highly educated buyers (that may have conflicting objectives). The cross functional teams will
• Conduct independent research and have developed opinions and biases concerning products and services prior to meeting with a sales professional
• Ask more complex, multi-functional, questions
• Make requests for additional custom assessments on products and services, extending the sales cycle
• Demand customized information about how their businesses will be impacted by a product or service
• Include key influencers (Senior Management), who the sales professional may never interface with

Because of the reasons discussed here-in, the sales function needs help if it wants to significantly influence and add value to a customers purchasing decision. They need processes, tools, training, and relevant real time content on a 24/7 basis.

Significant investments have been made in the front end of the sales funnel in Marketing Automation and CRM. Marketing Automation delivers a “sales ready lead” to the sales force and CRM provides management visibility into the opportunities available and sales activities underway. Similar investments have not been made in the sales function. Just like a chain though, the sales and marketing funnel is only as strong as its weakest link. Currently the sales function is the weakest link.

In order to be relevant to the empowered purchasing team, investments must be made in the sales funnel to create an enabled sales professional. An enabled sales professional is armed with the right information, for the right buyer, at the right time and place, and in the right format to move a sales opportunity forward. Enabling a sales force requires a strategic, continuous improvement, problem solving process that systematically uses best practices to convert a sales ready lead into a loyal customer.

Sales will always be a combination of art and science but the market place is currently driving it to more scientific processes and tools. Sales Enablement and Automation tools are are becoming available in the market place. Sales Enablement and Automation tools drive science into the sales function’s processes and tools. The question is not ” if you will invest in Sales Enablement and Automation tools” but “how much pain and lost opportunities are you willing to accept before you do”.

The path forward for the sales function is clear, The Enabled Salesforce, choose that path.

New Year, New Possibilities, New Resolutions…


I actually like New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a fresh start and anything is possible. You can re-set your goals and methods with a bright outlook for the coming year. A psychologist friend of mine suggests that to succeed with change, make small corrections in your behavior. If you want to wake up earlier, don’t go from 6AM to 4AM. You may last a week. Try 5:30AM instead and set the coffee to go off at 5:15AM so its ready when you hit the kitchen. Exercise is always a good one this time of year. Please don’t try to run a marathon tomorrow. I made a drunken New Years Eve resolution to run a marathon many, many years ago. My first jog was about 1.5 miles and I was exhausted (and I was slow). I kept it up for 6 months starting in January and ran the Palos Verdes Marathon in June. Finished in 3:37 minutes. Did I say that was a very long time ago?
So for 2016 my resolution is to provide better service to my customers. I will be more responsive and helpful and offer my 30+ years of experience to each and every situation. If you need anything regarding Cards, Labels, Affixing, Finishing, Fulfillment or Mailing, please let me know.
Happy New Year Everyone. May 2016 be your best ever.

Now… Take a moment and give Thanks

For me, I start with God. For you, its your choice. If you are reading

this, you are far better off than the vast majority of the world. We have

so many comforts and securities that we lose site of the struggle much

of the world faces every day.

If you are employed, thank your boss. If you are the boss, thank your

employees. If you are married, thank your significant other. If you have

parents, thank them. If you have kids, thank them. Get the point? Yes

we all have things to gripe about, but focus on what you have to be

thankful for, and the negatives don’t seem so bad.

Make it a habit to have and show gratitude. Not just the 4th Thursday in

November, but all year long.

Labels are Everywhere!

It’s not one of those things we think about at the end of the day. “Gee honey, I saw 5 different labels today.” But if you look around, they are everywhere. There is good reason that pressure sensitive labels are so popular today. They are used in…

  • Packaging
  • Marketing
  • Promotion
  • Print correction
  • Customer involvement

Just take packaging for instance. Enter any retail establishment and you are surrounded by them. In marketing, labels may be a little less obvious, but keep your eyes open.

Static Clings, post it style notes, floor displays, peel and reveals, scratch off…yup. Those are all labels.

So get the creative juices flowing and add a peel and reveal label on your next self-mailer. It will draw the reader into your message.

Add a post it style note to the catalog page you want to highlight.

Add a reflective foil label to add some pizazz to your next envelope package.

And don’t forget that pressure sensitive labels come in materials from white offset to holographic foil and everything in between. Add to that the unlimited shapes and sizes available and you have a creative dream come true.

And for the pragmatist, there are adhesive choices from repositionable up to heavy duty permanent so you can even choose your labels life span (sort of).

I realize that I am going on and on about labels, but you might just say that I am stuck on them.

Contact us at NCLA for suggestions. We love to help you sell more.

The Beauty of Self Mailers…

Self-Mailers are not what they used to be. With today’s multiple print and personalization options, along with folding and affixing options, your self-mailer can provide huge marketing advantages and drive sales.

Let me explain…

Generally, self-mailers are self-contained letters and brochures wrapped up into one efficient mail piece. With a little foresight, you can add response devices, coupon cards, special offers and more.

Just follow a few simple rules from the USPS (sounds like an oxymoron to me) and you can create exceptional, sales generating marketing pieces that get the customers attention and draw them into action.

  • Affix membership cards to encourage registrations
  • Attach sample packets for trial usage
  • Perf off coupons to drive store traffic
  • Peal and reveal labels for winners and discounts
  • Stocks, varnishes, die cuts can be used to create the right effect
  • Wafer sealed or glued shut for postal processing

Get creative and give me a call. We love to help people create unusual and effective mail pieces.

Who Wants More Customers and Profits?

According to The Loyalty Effect blog, building loyalty with 5% more customers would lead to an increased average profit per customer of between 25% and 100%.

You probably know that loyalty cards are a great way to build that relationship with customers, but did you know there are many, many options available to you?

  • Plastic, paper, thick, thin, clean release, double or triple size cards
  • Digital, flexo or conventional printing process for production
  • Personalized or generic cards
  • If personalized, mag strip encoded?

Lots to think about…

You want to be careful because Loyalty programs can be costly to implement. They can also be very rewarding, both short term and especially long term, if you set them up for success.

And now for distribution…

  • Mailing is the most common but you can also
  • Distribute from the store(s)
  • Provide on line sign up and fulfillment
  • Do the 2-Step program and mail a generic paper card, then give them a personalized plastic card at point of purchase

Once again, there are many, many options, so choose wisely. Think about your situation and what works best for you and your client base. Then go for it. Try a test. Test a few options. Marketing is not a perfect science, so testing is imperative. Track your results then go for it and watch your customers and profits increase.

If you need Cards and Creative Fulfillment Solutions – Contact NCLA, the intelligent source