When we teach our clients’ value analysis team members in our Lean Value Analysis Program about the “Hierarchy of Customers” (internal and external), we start out by focusing on the obvious customer who is anyone who touches the product, service or technology through its life cycle.
However, we also talk about the importance of identifying stakeholders (anyone who can block or influence your initiative) and experts (know more than any other person about the product, service or technology), because if you ignore any one of these customer classifications in your value analysis process, you can and will destroy your credibility.
I cannot tell you how many times we see value analysis project managers forget to communicate with their key customers and stakeholders in new product evaluations that their value analysis team has approved for purchase. Then, through happenstance, they find out that these customers and stakeholders were using the product improperly and wastefully, not to mention upset that they were not involved in the value analysis process of their product. These misunderstandings are quite an embarrassment for value analysis teams when the key customers and stakeholders find out (and they will find out) that they were omitted from their product’s value analysis process.
I can’t think of any one thing that can terminate a value analysis study more rapidly than missing or ignoring a key customer in your value analysis process. This mistake happens most often because at the start of their project, value analysis project managers don’t map out (on paper) who their customers, stakeholders, and experts are in their value analysis study. Don’t make this same mistake!
All it takes to avoid this fatal error is to ask these three questions: Who touches the product, service or technology through its life cycle, who can block or influence this initiative, and who knows more about the product, service or technology than any other person? By conducting this short exercise, you can be assured that you won’t miss a customer, stakeholder or expert in your value analysis process ever again.