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Who Is the Customer?

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  • #55015

    Eric Beck
    Participant

    If the process is the creation of a memo, who is the customer? Is the customer the entity(ies) who buy/use the company’s products? Or is the customer the position who reads and uses the memo? I appreciate your help! Thanks!!

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    #198211

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Sounds like internal customer as you’ve described it.

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    #198212

    Eric Beck
    Participant

    Man, I just lost an argument. :(

    Would you mind explaining why there are internal customers? I thought the customer determined whether steps were value-added or not. It just seems that the company shouldn’t be concerned with what some manager in the company wants if it’s not helping the organization’s objectives. As an example, this instructor we had in training talked about metrics that were non-value-added. Well, couldn’t you just say that the manager reviewing the metrics was the internal customer and the metrics were therefore value-added for this internal customer?

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    #198216

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    The challenge with internal business practices is that a customer isn’t paying the bill for the work being done so it violates definition of value added.

    However, one can analyze the process and see where transactions are transformed and call them business necessary (a middle ground) or go ahead and call them value added but realize in the strictest sense no one pays for those services. Hopefully you were taught the defintion of value added.

    Your goal should be to eliminate defects in internal processes or reduce cycle times–typically.

    Some folks say “I’m reducing costs to the business so I’m creating value” but it’s not truly value added. It’s an example of “maybe” business necessary. Don’t freak out too much on the semantics and remember your goal and problem statement.

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    #198218

    JB
    Participant

    There are internal and external customers. Normally, that is a topic covered in LSS training. Every process is a series of supplier – customer relationships, inputs and outputs in a chain with hopefully well defined requirements and measurements at critical points.

    If an internal customer is requiring something that is non-value added to the external customer, it is fair to question why the organization is doing it. But, like Chris said, some work needs to be done even if the outcome is invisible to the external customer who is buying the product. For example – a medical device manufacturer may need to keep a record of the date, time and machine number that produced a medical device for government approval/audit. The end customer buying the device may not care about it but, if it’s a legal requirement the manufacturer still has to record the data.

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    #198219

    cfb
    Guest

    It might be helpful to remember you need to identify (1) the system boundaries and (2) the flow unit that moves through it when trying to improve a process. And this is a conscious choice…you determine this…and it can be defined different ways….and then you design to the consumer of the flow unit.

    For example, your flow unit could be the invoice, the thing invoiced, or the monetary amount associated with that invoice…different flow units, different system boundaries, different consumers.

    So consider this when chartering up your project…you have choices here…give it some time and understand where you are working.

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    #198220

    Amit Kumar Ojha
    Participant

    I agree with CFB.
    The most important point in six sigma project is to clearly identify the scope of the process based upon which one can easily identify the customer.
    As an example, let us take an ‘Appraisal’ process of an organization. Let is consider that the scope includes all the full time employees who have worked more than a year.
    In this process the recipeint of the service (performance appraisal) in terms of increments / promotion is ‘Employee’ of the organization. Hence the customer for ‘Appraisal’ process would be the ‘Employee”

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    #198229

    Ram
    Guest

    The immediate entity who is reading the said memo is the immediate next customer.
    The person(s) to whom the memo is ultimately intended and addressed to is the ultimate customer(s). If the audience find the memo useful and willing to pay for it (by their time, attention or action) then probably it is “value-added”.

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