What is this thing called 9Stucks?
9Stucks is a dynamic business diagnostic tool. It identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform.

Customer Satisfaction: Can I Take Your Order Please?

There should be no confusion about what a customer expects from the business relationship with a supplier.  A critical aspect of a company’s go-to-market tactics is having clear processes and effective systems that create strong connection points to the customer.

What are you most critical business processes?  How are these related to customer satisfaction?

Who owns these processes?

These four successful companies who used the 9Stucks approach have radically different business models:

  • Manufacturer of large, custom test equipment
  • Engineering services consulting firm
  • Printer of trade magazines
  • Manufacturer of precision electronic assemblies

Even though they are very different businesses, there is ONE critical thing they all had in common:

They all had one customer-centric, internal process that had no clear ownership.  

Each one of them lacked distinct accountability and ownership by ONE person over ONE important process linked directly to their customers. [Read more…]

What is this thing called 9Stucks?
9Stucks is a dynamic business diagnostic tool. It identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform.

Part 4: Go with the Flow(charting)

 

This is the fourth post in The 9Stucks Boot Camp Series.  The third post (‘Logjam and the 80/20 Rule’) identified StorageCo’s two most pressing challenges:

  1. a business model that generated unnecessary complexity, added costs and caused tension throughout the company and the leadership team
  2. plants, equipment, and processes that were old and inefficient
This post will cover the inefficient processes found throughout the company.

What is a Sideways Review?

A Sideways Review was something I did with a team at StorageCo. Years ago a sideways review was called flowcharting; flowcharting was replaced with re-engineering. One of the current terms for understanding the effectiveness of systems and processes is lean manufacturing.

When trying to understand the linkages among business processes within a company, the analysis work should investigate the Ins, the Outs, and Everything in Between. In other words, what activities does it take to book an order, book a consulting project, etc., and then get the product or service made and shipped.

How did we organize the Sideways Review?

We set up a cross-functional project team from the company, got some big rolls of brown paper, hung the sheets of paper on the walls and started to document all the processes at the company. Remember this project was done a number of years ago; ‘brown paper’ was state of the art!

The following chart shows how we organized the overall operations; these were divided up to facilitate that detailed, ‘horizontal’ review of the company. There were four main segments:

  • order processing
  • production planning
  • production
  • distribution

These four sections were then broken down into even more detail.

Notice how this graphic is organized by PROCESS layers (or MAJOR FUNCTIONS), not by DEPARTMENT. The company had many long-standing departments that were contained both within each of these process steps and departments that overlapped the process steps. Given this was a very old company, their organizational structure seemed to be put together more like additions being attached to an old house rather than like an organized remoldeling effort.

StorageCo had a tremendous number of large and small process issues that needed to be changed, eliminated, or replaced with better technology.  They also had ongoing, quality breakdowns in most areas of the plant.

[Read more…]

What is this thing called 9Stucks?
9Stucks is a dynamic business diagnostic tool. It identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform.

Part 3: Logjams and the 80/20 Rule

StorageCo’s most pressing issues

The second post in The 9Stucks Boot Camp Series (‘An Eyeful and an Earful’) called out a number of StorageCo’s challenging issues (a real Stuck Salmagundi). Typically, there are problems that stand out and dominate all the others. StorageCo’s 2 biggest issues were:

  1. a business model that generated unnecessary complexity, added costs and caused tension throughout the company and the leadership team
  2. plants, equipment, and processes that were old and inefficient (this will be covered in the fourth/next post ‘Go with the Flow(charting)’)

Questions for you to consider are:

  • What is a business model?
  • Why is StorageCo’s business too complex?
  • What can be done to fix their business model?

The Business Model

A business model (i.e. the ‘guts of the business’) is the combination of operating entities, plants/locations, products or services, distribution channels, customers and the associated operational policies that support this unique mix. StorageCo had 2 plants and 4 product lines. For purposes of this discussion let’s call the product lines 1) Specialty, 2) Plain Vanilla, 3) Logjam (hint), and 4) Industrial. Summary product line sales, customer data and order data are highlighted in the chart below.

What makes StorageCo’s business model too complex?

[Read more…]