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How to figure out who the real customer is?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General How to figure out who the real customer is?

Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)
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  • #52839

    ladylonghorn
    Participant

    I’m a new Black Belt working on my first project. The process being examed is the performance management process – the process of having employees evaluated, assigned a performance rating for the year and then applying compensation rewards. It’s hard to get agreement on WHO the customer is of this process…
    Is it the employee who ultimately recieves a rating and rewards?
    Is it the supervisor who participates in the process of providing a rating?
    Is it the HR department who needs rating and compensation decisions to happen in a fair and consistent manner?
    Depending on who the customer is, could greatly effect the “lens” through which we think about throughout the remainder of the project. I’d love to hear persepctive from others.

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    #186382

    Lee
    Member

    The most succinct answer to your question is: whoever uses output of the process is a customer.

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    #186383

    dlw bpex
    Participant

    Some questions that may help align thinking:
    1. How and why was this process selected?
    2. Who is unhappy with the current process? Who will benefit if it is
    “improved”?
    3. What are the metrics of the PROCESS itself? How will you even
    know if it has been improved?
    4. What is the objective of this process? Minimize payroll? Maximize
    parity? Reduce unwanted turnover? Satisfy a policy?

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    #186385

    newbie
    Participant

    You will usually have multiple customers who consume one or more of the process outputs.  One approach: 
    Use your SIPOC/COPIS with “$100 Dollar Exercise” and the Leadership Team to prioritize either:  outputs or customers.  Now pick the one that makes the most sense from a business perspective and work from there.  Good luck.

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    #186387

    Darth
    Participant

    Sadly your first project is something that is contradictory to good management principles. Do a little research (especially Dr. Deming) on the fallacy and destructiveness of such a practice. First thing to do is a MSA on the ineffectiveness of the measurement system in determining a true performance rating and the arbitrary assignment of compensation. Hopefully your project will conclude that the practice is severely flawed and should be replaced with leadership.

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    #186388

    Chuck Wetherhold
    Participant

    Why did you leave the company off the list?

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    #186391

    Taylor
    Participant

    Ladylonghorn
    First of all, Go SEC, down with the horns…………..
    The customer is the manager using the system. This person is the one who has to deal with a system, has to learn the system, has to use the system.
    The output is a rating which the employee receives, nothing more nothing less, so the employee, unless a user of the system is merely a part of the process.
    The Company is also a customer, but indirectly. Results of the process effeciency could directly impact management performance and also P&L due to unwarranted compensations or lack there of.
     
     

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    #186392

    GB
    Participant

    As Darth stated, I would challenge the project.
    It’s a no-start, per Deming.

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    #186394

    Shafi I. Khalisdar
    Member

    You need to identify what the objective is first.
    There are two interested parties in this scenario:
    (1) Evaluators, and (2) Evaluatees. Are you trying
    to improve the process to make the evaluation
    process performed by the evaluators
    efficient/effective or are you trying to make the
    evaluatees satisfied by what they receive from the
    evaluators.Once you brainstorm that with your team you can then
    easily identify who the customer is.Hope this helps.

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    #186435

    GB
    Participant

    Wrong answer.

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    #186437

    Darth
    Participant

    Stan, stop using HeeBee’s posting name. He gives much better answers than “It depends” and “Wrong answer”.See, give Stan a bone and he takes your posting name and if you don’t watch out, your leg as well.

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    #186445

    GB
    Participant

    Nah, it’s really me. My brain is mushy silt after a long day of vetting financials for my latest gaggle of coachee’s.

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    #186446

    TonyBo
    Member

    Identifying what you are trying to improve in the process may help.  Have you done a SIPOC?  Supe and employee could both be a customer in this process, as well as a supplier. 
    Your last sentence in your post is odd….it seems like your team is unsure of what it wants to improve, or why it is even looking at the process in the first place. 

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    #186447

    wgmiller
    Member

    I will agree with Chad:  the customers for employee reviews are the folks that use them, and in general those are managers.  While employees do use performance reviews, they are definitely the last ones in the customer line.
    W. G. Miller

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    #186460

    Kluttz
    Member

    First of all, I almost can’t help but to be discouraged by some of the responses here.  SIPOC’s?  Brainstorming?  All very symptomatic of “SS Project via Checklist”;
    Charter?  Check!
    SIPOC?  Check!
    Fishbone?  Check!
    That’s everything that’s wrong with Six Sigma today – reflexive tool usage without a single thought as to whether you’re actually getting closer to where you want to be.  If LadyLonghorn followed that methodology, it would be two months later and she’d have 5 Gb of charts, spreadsheets and powerpoints and she would know absolutely nothing more about her process than she does right now. 
    And as far as Deming’s take on projects like this?  Yeah, I get it.  Completely agree with you.  Absolutely no argument that the fundamental principles of her project are flawed.  But that really doesn’t mean a whole lot for her.  I would doubt that going to her Champion and saying “hey, Im not going to do this project because some dead guy said it was lame” would get her very far.  Getting from modern corporate America to Demingtopia is going to have to be an evolutionary process.  So although her project may look like something my dog left in a tightly coiled pile in the backyard, she still has to make something out of it.
    The performance management process has a purpose, right?  You might want to figure out what that is.  Incentivizing behaviors that allegedly drive profits?  If thats it, then so what?  Assuming normally distributed performance in statistical control, you might as well be randomly handing out $100 bills.  And if the incentives regularly go to the same people, then what’s wrong with everyone else (assuming a valid and robust performance measurement system)?  Shouldn’t an output of the performance management system be an action plan for low performers?  And shouldn’t the effectiveness of said action plan be measured for its effectiveness (i.e the effectiveness of the process and/or managers of the process)?  So wouldn’t improving that process be valuable for the company?  (Hmm, assigning blame to the process as opposed to the individual – wonder who thought of that?)
    That might be a project.  If it’s not, then you’ll actually have to figure out what it actually is.  Until then, it doesn’t really matter who you think your customer is.

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    #186468

    GB
    Participant

    UCS,
    If a project is lame (i.e. a non-starter), then a BB better have the B**** to be honest, upfornt and transparent with their Sponsor. I had to pull the project no-start card several times and each time, I backed up the decision with data.
    These Sponsors saw the light and reformulated their req’s.

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    #186480

    newbie
    Participant

    That was excellent!  But could you explain the comment:  Assuming normally distributed performance in statistical control, you might as well be randomly handing out $100 bills
    Thanks!

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    #186482

    Kluttz
    Member

    The project as stated (the performance management process) wasn’t actionable in any way, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a project there.  At a lot of companies, performance reviews tend to be ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst.  There’s value into looking into the process as it relates to the output of the session – the coaching, action items, goals/targets/scorecards, etc. 
    Just because she’s been assigned an unscoped nebulous project, that doesn’t mean she can’t make something out of it. 

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    #186483

    Kluttz
    Member

    Let’s say that there are ten people working on IT help desk tickets and they’re being measured on average time to resolve.  Assuming equal experience and skillsets, that resolution time is going to be dependent on the complexity & volume of incoming tickets.  So the person that happens to receive the least complex tickets will have the lowest resolution time and will be bonused accordingly.  That same person may receive more complex tickets on average the following month and wouldn’t receive a bonus. 
    We would expect 99.7% of individual and team performances to be within 3 standard deviations of the mean with a lot of random variation around the centerline.  So if we can’t attribute individual performance (good or bad) to some characteristic, then we’re just incentivizing based on expected random data. 

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    #186485

    Darth
    Participant

    There is a great thread running on DEN (Deming Electronic Network) and the destructiveness of appraisals.  Very interesting.  Since you know my position on the subject you would be surprised that I have actually worked projects on the topic.  But, it has been from the perspective of doing MSAs on the ability of an appraisal/evaluation system to rate people.  If the company has to do one, at least make it repeatable and reproducable if not actually reflective of the truth. 
    In fact my Dissertation with Deming was on the statistical validity of time study practices.  Turns out even that old classical tool was pretty much of a random walk.

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    #186487

    Kluttz
    Member

    We ran into a similar situation when the management staff came to the realization that it had almost a third of frontline employees on some sort of (poor)performance-related action plan.  They initially jumped to the conclusion that they had hired a bunch of dirtbags but eventually we brought them around to doing a series of MSA’s to determine if they were actually being rated in a consistent, repeatable fashion AND if the action plans were actually achieving the intended result.  Long story short – it was ugly.
    It’s amazing what we can learn when we actually take a hard look at our infrastructure processes rather than just reflexively reacting to superficial metrics.

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    #187127

    cxg174
    Participant

    I don’t see anything lame about trying to improve on a process that evidently is in need of improvement. I think you have to determine what is driving the need for this project to determine who your customers are. Is it turnover? Is it employee satisfaction? Is it simply and outdated system that HR wants to bring up to standards? Is it a lack of attracting high quality employees? Each of these points to customers. Define the problem.

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