Clicky Web Analytics Kerry Walters Shares Accounting Expertise: June 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009


A company that is properly using lean processes is a company focused on their customers. They will be creating stronger customer loyalty. I learned many lean concepts when our company started to apply lean manufacturing processes. I saw the benefits and wanted to expand the lean concepts to the company’s administrative departments. Since I supervise a team of five members, I had a place to start using the lean concepts.

Our training began with three lean concepts. They were identifying our customers, eliminating waste and recognizing value added processes. We began the training by listing who our customers were. This is always an interesting learning experience. Their first answer was management. We continued the quest. Their answers now included management and anyone who relied upon the Company’s financial data. It also included anyone that provided us with the raw data that we processed. We drilled down into whom provided us with raw data. Finally, they realized that we had customers outside the company that affected our jobs. They always thought that only inside customers affected their jobs.

It took a little time to get to the point that our Department affects customers outside of the company and that outside customers affect our Department. Once the team better understood the lean concept of identifying customers, they team realized how the outside customers influence their jobs. They eventually recognized that our outside customers actually provide them a job and they ultimately provide them with a paycheck.

We indentified our inside customers as management and department managers and supervisors. Our inside customers also included everyone that provides us with the raw data we use. As we began to talk about our inside customers, they realized that all our customers have expectations and that we have to meet those expectations.

I explained a case where a department's customer rating went from poor to excellent after the department's team members focused on meeting their customer’s needs. After truly focusing on their customers’ needs, the team began to change. Customers that had previously been disruptive or antagonist to the department began to praise the department. Many customers were able to get immediate responses to their questions or their problems. They related how positive their experience had been. Those positive customer comments elevated the team’s opinions about their jobs. Adopting the lean concept of focusing on customers even change the attitudes of the team members. Their jobs became more enjoyable and satisfying.

The lean concept about customers is not a consultant created fantasy to increase their fees. A company’s primary focus must be on their customers. For some departments outside customers are everything and for others it would be outside and inside customers. To edit a saying, happy customers make for a happy company and happy company employees.

To emphasize this point, the companies that weather an economic crisis the best are those whose prime focus is their customers. These same companies seem to be able to maintain their employees with jobs. It seems that their customers are willing to pay to keep the employees employed. Those companies who have lost their focus on their customers or never had it have not survived the economic crises or are barely getting by. They are the companies whose employees are swelling the unemployed ranks.