Jerry W. Claunch C.P.M.
Jerry W. Claunch C.P.M., President, Claunch & Associates, Inc., Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 407/626-0347.
In today's competitive market, there is a need to evaluate and make drastic changes to our companies by assessing what is important to our customers. In service departments such as Purchasing, our customers are internal to the organization and are just as important as our companies outside customers. Re-engineering requires that we make customer service the priority and utilize technology to meet our customer demands. In our quest to re-engineer our organizations, there is a need to change the way we have done business in order to meet the challenges of the future.
HOW CAN YOU HELP ME?
When you consider this question, asked from your customers point of view, you can begin to determine how to re-engineer. Your customers may be external to your organization, but very likely are internal to the company. Internal customers are just as important as external customers, yet many organizations fail to recognize that the internal customers have the same options as the external customers.
The analysis of the question of "How can you help me?" must come from the customers point of view. Unless you are helping them in their eyes, you may not be helping at all. Inconvenient rules or outdated methods must be eliminated and not just strictly adhered to.
Any dissatisfaction that you can identify may be just the thing you need to examine in order to re-engineer. The key is are you listening for dissatisfaction or simply assuming it doesn't exist. If you are able to hear the dissatisfaction, you will be able to identify the re-engineering that is necessary. Do not just accept the way things are. Many times policies, procedures and forms are the way they are because someone decided who were not listening to their customers. Things change, and today the thing that needs changing most is listening to our customers and responding to their needs.
RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR CHANGE.
It is important that you recognize the need for change because "The lack of competition has driven service departments into a state of inflexibility and sluggishness". Don't confuse sluggishness with how hard you work. Most of you have to work very hard to use the outdated systems, procedures, policies and documents you are given. Likewise, hard work does not mean you are effective in the work you do and service you perform.
While it is the customers responsibility to identify dissatisfaction, you may find it necessary to survey them in order to obtain the information. When conducting the survey or analyzing the input you are given from customers there are four pillars of re-engineering that you need to consider:
Think of this as a marketing concept, wherein you improve the efficiency of your department. It is important that everyone recognize that other departments exist and they too have the same obligation to customer service. Departments do best when they define the boundaries of their market and then prepare a strategy to service that particular market, keeping in mind that they must team with other departments to achieve this goal.
Purchasing, for example, must coordinate with Finance which at times may overlap. Finance provides the funds for payment, but Purchasing is responsible for the contract, follow-up and choosing of the supplier. Both departments should re-engineer in order to service the internal customer.
First, define the boundaries of your market and than set a strategy to service that market. Service includes customer delight and this can happen if we change.
In order to delight the customer, you must meet their needs from their point of view.
Today many companies fail to recognize the importance of employees in providing service. Invest in employees, educate and train them in people skills as well as job functions. The payback will be tremendous.
For years, we've been talking about Purchasing as a profit center. As you drive costs down, company profits will increase.
BOUNDARIES THAT EXIST.
You must be aware of the boundaries that exist to re-engineering. 1. Departmental, 2. Defining customer needs, 3. Customer retention and 4. Employees and management. These boundaries need to be addressed, and should not be seen as barriers to success. Each of these boundaries should be recognized and known. The needs of the customer should not be confused with the wants of the customer. Meeting their needs is the reason for your department to exist. Satisfying their needs efficiently ensures survival.
Once the customer realizes that we meet their needs, they become satisfied, and our jobs are secure. More importantly though, we function by adding value to the total organization.
Re-engineering for service departments becomes vital to our continued success. The organization benefits due to the value we add, and the waste that is eliminated.
NOTE: This article is missing charts. For a complete copy of the article, please call the NAPM Information Center.