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December 20, 2016

Stupid Business Rules

True story… I received a notification from the State of Tennessee recently that it was time to renew my ‘dba.’ Fine… so I filled out the form, wrote the check and sent it in. A few days later, I received an envelope back from the department I had responded to. On top of my form and my check – which they were returning – was a letter from the head of the department and, across the top, stamped in big letters: REJECTED.

Crap! What did I do… wrong amount on the check, improperly filled out form, what? Nope. I had sent in my form and my money too early! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? So, let me get this straight… one of your customers (me) pays TOO promptly… and your response is to send the money back?

You can’t make this stuff up!

Someone in State Government had to take the time to read through my paperwork, figure out that it was “early,” had to then print out a cover letter, type up an envelope then send it all back to me… so that I can send it back in 2 weeks later?! Seriously?!?!

Yeah, I know… it happens all the time. And the government is generally a pretty easy target for this kind of idiocy around business rules. But it got me to thinking… have you – as a business owner, executive or manager – allowed certain business rules to creep in and take hold in your firm that outsiders might call “stupid?” Before you immediately shout back “no”… take a few minutes to make sure.

Put on your client hat and think through all of the touch points they might have with you and think about what’s really going on… starting with your website and social media sites, incoming inquires (by website, phone or email), capability presentations, responding to RFPs, your bid packages, on-going communications during projects, final reporting and billing.

Think about all of those steps through the lens of your clients’ eyes. Is each of them simple, easy-to-understand and consistent? Are they measured and managed so you’re always improving them? Is there one person you can point to who has responsibility for each of them? And the catch-phrase for each of these – unlike at the State of Tennessee – is simply, “Does it make sense?”

If the answer is not a resounding “absolutely,” then it might be time to re-think your processes.

Good luck.

Now it’s your turn. Have you encountered any business rules that caused to you to scratch your head… or run screaming in the other direction? If so, please share them with our readers.

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