Ultimate Office Products was an old, established manufacturing company in the turbulent office products industry.

Ultimate Office Products

 

Ultimate Office Products was an old, established manufacturing company in the turbulent office products industry. Discount merchandisers and office product superstores were spreading rapidly and altering the traditional distribution channels once dominated by wholesalers and smaller retail stores. The growing power of the superstores was forcing manufacturers to improve customer service. The traditional manufacturers were being challenged by new companies more willing to cut prices and use technologies favored by the superstores, such as electronic orders and billing.

 

Ultimate Office Products was losing market share and profits were declining. Richard Kelly was the director of information systems, a newly created position in the company. When the CEO met with Richard to discuss his new responsibilities and objectives, she explained that it was essential to speed up order processing and improve customer service. Richard knew that the order processing system used by the company was obsolete. He prepared a plan to automate the system and got approval from the CEO for it. Then, he purchased new computer workstations and a software package to support them. The software would enable customers to make electronic orders, and it would improve order processing, billing, and inventory control.

 

However, months after the equipment and software arrived, it was still waiting to be used. The managers from sales, production, accounting, shipping, and customer service could not agree about the requirements of the new system, which was necessary to get it operating. These managers were Richard’s peers, and he had no direct authority over them. Even though he encouraged cooperation, meetings among the managers usually ended with heated accusations about who was responsible for the company’s problems. Most of the managers disagreed about the reason for the delays in filling orders, and some questioned the need for an expensive new system. Meanwhile, the CEO was becoming impatient about the lack of progress. She made it clear that, after spending a small fortune on new technology, she expected Richard to find a way to resolve the problem. Richard decided it was time to take a different approach.

 

His first step was to gather more information about the reasons for delays in processing and filling orders. He began by having his staff map the workflow from the time orders were received until the filled orders were shipped. As he suspected, many unnecessary activities created roadblocks that could be eliminated to speed up the process. The problems extended across functional boundaries and required changes in all departments. The preliminary results were presented to the CEO, who agreed on the need for dramatic improvements and authorized Richard to begin reengineering the process. Despite having the support of the CEO, Richard knew that widespread commitment would be needed for major changes to be successful. Richard met with the department managers to get their assistance in forming some cross-functional task forces. Although he knew that one task force would probably be enough to determine what changes were needed, he wanted to involve more people in the change process so that they would understand and support it. He created multiple task force teams to examine a different aspect of the problem. They task was to analyze processes, meet with key customers to learn what they wanted, and visit other companies to learn how they processed orders more efficiently.

 

Ultimate Office Products

 

 

Ultimate Office Products was an old, established manufacturing company in the turbulent office

products industry. Discount merchandisers and office product superstores were spread

ing

rapidly and altering the traditional distribution channels once dominat

ed by wholesalers and

 

smaller

 

retail

 

stores.

 

The

 

growing

 

power

 

of

 

the

 

superstores

 

was

 

forcing

 

manufacturers

 

to

improve

customer service.

 

The traditional manufacturers were being challenged by new

 

compa

nies

 

more

 

willing

 

to

 

cut

 

prices

 

and

 

use

 

technologies

 

favored

 

by

 

the

 

superstores,

 

such

 

as

 

electronic

 

orders

 

and

 

billing.

 

 

 

Ultimate

 

Office

 

Products

 

was

 

losing

 

market

 

share

 

and

 

profits

 

were

 

declining.

 

Richard

 

Kelly

 

was

 

the

 

director

 

of

 

information

 

systems,

 

a

 

newly

 

created

 

position

 

in

 

the

 

company.

 

When

 

the

 

CEO

 

met

 

with

 

Richard

 

to

 

discuss

 

his

 

new

 

responsibilities

 

and

 

objectives,

 

she

 

explained

 

that

 

it

 

was

 

essential

 

to

 

speed

 

up

 

order

 

processing

 

and

 

improve

 

customer

 

ser

vice.

 

Richard

 

knew

 

that

 

the

 

order

 

processing

 

system

 

used

 

by

 

the

 

company

 

was

 

obsolete.

 

He

 

prepared

 

a

 

plan

 

to

 

automate

 

the

 

system

 

and

 

got

 

approval

 

from

 

the

 

CEO

 

for

 

it.

 

Then,

 

he

 

pur

chased

 

new

 

computer

 

workstations

 

and

 

a

 

software

 

package

 

to

 

support

 

them.

 

The

 

software

 

would

 

enable customers to

make electronic orders, and it would

improve

order processing,

 

billing,

 

and

 

inventory

 

control.

 

 

 

However,

 

months

 

after

 

the

 

equipment

 

and

 

software

 

arrived,

 

it

 

was

 

still

 

waiting

 

to

 

be

 

used.

 

The

 

managers

 

from

 

sales,

 

production,

 

accounting,

 

shipping,

 

and

 

customer

 

service

 

could

 

not

 

agree

 

about

 

the

 

requirements

 

of

 

the

 

new

 

system,

 

which

 

was

 

necessary

 

to

 

get

 

it

 

oper

ating.

 

These

 

managers

 

were

 

Richard’s

 

peers,

 

and

 

he

 

had

 

no

 

direct

 

authority

 

over

 

them.

 

Even

 

though

 

he

 

encouraged

 

cooperation,

 

meetings

 

among

 

the

 

managers

 

usually

 

ended

 

with

 

heated

 

accusations about who was responsible for the

company’s

problems. Most of the

 

managers

 

disa

greed

 

about

 

the

 

reason

 

for

 

the

 

delays

 

in

 

filling

 

orders,

 

and

 

some

 

questioned

 

the

 

need

 

for

 

an

 

expen

sive new system. Meanwhile, the CEO was becoming impatient about the lack of

 

progress.

 

She

 

made

 

it

 

clear

 

that,

 

after

 

spending

 

a

 

small

 

fortune

 

on

 

new

 

technology,

 

she

 

expected

 

Richard

 

to

 

find

 

a way to resolve the problem. Richard decided it was time to take

a different approach.

 

 

His

 

first

 

step

 

was

 

to

 

gather

 

more

 

information

 

about

 

the

 

reasons

 

for

 

delays

 

in

 

processing

 

and filling

 

orders.

 

He

 

began

 

by

 

having

 

his

 

staff

 

map

 

the

 

workflow

 

from

 

the

 

time

 

orders

 

were

 

received until

 

the

 

filled

 

orders

 

were

 

shipped.

 

As

 

he

 

suspected,

 

many

 

unnecessary

 

activities

 

created

 

roadblock

s

 

that

 

could

 

be

 

eliminated

 

to

 

speed

 

up

 

the

 

process.

 

The

 

problems

 

extended

 

across

 

functional

boundaries and required changes in all departments. The preliminary results were presented to

the CEO, wh

o agreed on the need for dramatic improvements and authorized Richard to begin

Ultimate Office Products

 

Ultimate Office Products was an old, established manufacturing company in the turbulent office

products industry. Discount merchandisers and office product superstores were spreading

rapidly and altering the traditional distribution channels once dominated by wholesalers and

smaller retail stores. The growing power of the superstores was forcing manufacturers to

improve customer service. The traditional manufacturers were being challenged by new

companies more willing to cut prices and use technologies favored by the superstores, such as

electronic orders and billing.

 

Ultimate Office Products was losing market share and profits were declining. Richard Kelly was

the director of information systems, a newly created position in the company. When the CEO

met with Richard to discuss his new responsibilities and objectives, she explained that it was

essential to speed up order processing and improve customer service. Richard knew that the

order processing system used by the company was obsolete. He prepared a plan to automate

the system and got approval from the CEO for it. Then, he purchased new computer

workstations and a software package to support them. The software would enable customers to

make electronic orders, and it would improve order processing, billing, and inventory control.

 

However, months after the equipment and software arrived, it was still waiting to be used. The

managers from sales, production, accounting, shipping, and customer service could not agree

about the requirements of the new system, which was necessary to get it operating. These

managers were Richard’s peers, and he had no direct authority over them. Even though he

encouraged cooperation, meetings among the managers usually ended with heated

accusations about who was responsible for the company’s problems. Most of the managers

disagreed about the reason for the delays in filling orders, and some questioned the need for an

expensive new system. Meanwhile, the CEO was becoming impatient about the lack of progress.

She made it clear that, after spending a small fortune on new technology, she expected Richard to

find a way to resolve the problem. Richard decided it was time to take a different approach.

 

His first step was to gather more information about the reasons for delays in processing and filling

orders. He began by having his staff map the workflow from the time orders were received until

the filled orders were shipped. As he suspected, many unnecessary activities created roadblocks

that could be eliminated to speed up the process. The problems extended across functional

boundaries and required changes in all departments. The preliminary results were presented to

the CEO, who agreed on the need for dramatic improvements and authorized Richard to begin

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