Case Studies

 Why CUF is Better than FUD

Why you should avoid compeating on 'Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt' and focus instead on CUF.

todd-herman-webMany 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 IBMit 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 partsthe 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 urgentstill, 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 Image of man with arrow pointing upfrequentlysay, on a daily or weekly basisor 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 needscouple 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 itselfand it did.

Read more, and then call me to discuss hard-dollar benefits we can deliver to your company.

Regards, 

 ToddsSignature


 

 

Deliver Major Cost Savings by Using Technology and Improving Process

Situation: Fast Growth Caused Outgrowth

The president and operations head of a fast-growing patient medication management company came to us with immediate, short-term, and longer-term needs. 

Opportunity: The Chance to Do Things Right

The immediate need was to develop a system to duplicate the capabilities of an off-the-shelf patient medication management system they had outgrown, and to build the software with additional improvements in mind. They described their paper, Excel, and Access workarounds, and felt there must be a better way to achieve their desired results.

Their short-term need was to comply with a new Federal requirement about providing information to their customers, which are largely funded by government programs. Their longer-term needs were to increase efficiency and effectiveness of their personnel, and to develop a platform to enhance their "Customer-Intimate" market position.

Solution: Building a Solution Focused on Efficiency & Effectiveness

Our Senior Consultant initially worked with client personnel to understand their basic processes, and then to propose and refine ideas to eliminate inefficiencies. After this, we immediately began Phase 1, rapidly designing, developing, and deploying a browser-based system to serve their immediate needs.

We then switched gears and focused on their other needs. We added automated faxing into the system, and replaced their manual process to print, address, and fax a paper document ---- this cut staff time from a few minutes per fax to just a few seconds, and automatically archived the fax image.

We designed, developed, and deployed the functionality to give customers access to additional information via a secure web portal ---- this avoided the need to hire additional personnel to handle these new regulatory requirements.

Diagram and Roadmap

This Roadmap shows our client how the immediate needs (Phase 1) and short-term needs(Phases 1.1 to 1.3) would proceed, while laying the groundwork for the longer-term needs(Phases 2, 3, and 4).  A one-page Roadmap helped promote strategic thinking ----  we could discuss with our client how their desired "Customer-Intimate" focus was enabled by each phase and see how the project fits into their overall game plan and success.

Image of Client Roadmap

Results & Benefits: Streamlining the Most Expensive Process

A quantum leap in efficiency and effectiveness came from integrating technology into the pharmacists' review of patient medication.

Previously, these were done on paper, and required significant staff time to track the needed reviews. Now, reviews are requested and tracked through the system ---- pharmacists work through the queue based on review priority, review the medications, note recommended changes for the attending physician, and mark the review as complete.

Two additional features provided even better efficiency:

•   The system stores each pharmacist's recommendations by medication and patient, then retrieves and pre-populates each pharmacist's most frequent recommendation for each medication.

•   The system automatically faxes the review to the requester, and permanently archives what was sent.

Pharmacy Review

The new system presents the user-selected medication list for the pharmacist's review.  All medications are shown, as well as vital information on the patient and the diagnoses.  Documenting recommendations becomes easier the more each pharmacist uses the system ----  the system stores pharmacist-specific recommendations by medication, then presents the most frequent ones for the specific pharmacist to insert and, if needed, edit.  User preferences on phrasing are respected, while re-usability is enabled.

Image of Example Pharmacy Review

Conclusion: Fast Growth Now Easily Supported

Key personnel of this healthcare company had a goal to develop a more appropriate business system, and streamline their processes at the same time. By working with Todd Herman Associates, our client improved its competitive position, because it made a smart one-time investment to achieve ongoing cost savings.

Now, as they continue their aggressive growth curve, they will be able to serve a much greater number of customers, with only minimal additions in staff.

Would you like to enjoy benefits like our client did? If so, contact me now about your process improvement ideas and questions.

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About Todd Herman Associates

Todd Herman Associates is a business technology consulting firm focused on non-routine technology issues such as replacing QuickBooks, getting two systems to "talk" to each other, shrinking process cycle time, and taming large volumes of data.