Many people in business know the acronym, FUD. This is short-hand for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, and refers to a selling and marketing tactic based on spreading disinformation about another company's product or service. While FUD originated in the computer hardware industry – Wikipedia traces it back to Amdahl and IBM – it is no longer restricted to business, being a key tactic in public relations and politics.
FUD is an unethical attempt to obtain competitive advantage over another product, service, or idea. Might there be a better way to achieve competitive advantage? Yes, and I call it CUF.
CUF stands for Complex, Urgent, or Frequent, and refers to characteristics of an individual activity or overall process.
- Complex is defined as "composed of two or more parts." Complexity is an inherent part of any situation having two or more parts – the more parts, the higher the complexity. Complexity is unavoidable, because of a situation's nature (Complexity is not the same as complicated, as I explain in "Identifying the Real Problem.")
- Urgent is defined as "calling for immediate attention." In business today, it sometimes seems ALL needs or requests are urgent – still, as you know, you can only do one thing at a time, and you generally put urgent activities at the top of your "To Do" list. (Unfortunately, urgent sometimes trumps important when it should not, as I explain in The Tyranny of Urgent AND Important).
- Frequent is defined as "common, usual; happening at short intervals: often repeated or occurring." You likely perform the great majority of activities in your job frequently – say, on a daily or weekly basis – or else you would not have your job.
Activities or processes having one or more CUF attributes are excellent candidates for Business Process Improvement or Automation.
This month's case study discusses various CUF activities for a client devoted to specialized medication management. Our client's customers are companies which need the services of specialized pharmacists, yet cannot justify having one on the payroll.
- Complex activities are involved in setting up new patients and their medications. While these activities are performed by relatively low-cost personnel, these folks had to use a service provider's system designed to handle ALL sorts of medication needs – couple this complexity with a cryptic user interface and you can smell inefficiency a mile away.
- Urgent activities include sending medication cards to pharmacies so the proper drugs can be immediately dispensed. This had been done by printing these, preparing a cover sheet, and faxing the packet to relevant pharmacies.
- Frequent activities include medication reviews performed by the staff pharmacists. These had been performed manually, with the pharmacists having to find the relevant batch of paper medication lists to review, conducting the review, documenting their notes by hand, and giving these to staff to fax back to their customers.
The system we developed uses technology to improve processes and thus helps our client'speople perform better, thereby increasing business results.
And does addressing CUF yield a competitive advantage? In our client's case, absolutely! Improving key processes freed our client's staff from mind-numbing mechanics to allow customer-intimate service.
And the system itself? Our client's president said she made the short list for a potential new customer specifically because this system allowed her to service their needs more quickly than a much larger competitor.
Greater efficiency? New customer? Sounds like this project could quickly pay for itself – and it did.
Read more, and then call me to discuss hard-dollar benefits we can deliver to your company.
Todd L. Herman