13 December 2011
QI would like to double our capability to process quotations:?can lean tools and techniques be applied to the back office?
A Yes, MAS regularly helps SMEs to apply lean tools and techniques to back office processes as they can easily identify wasteful, non-productive actions.
The best place to start is to map out the complete quotation process, from receipt of enquiry through to the issuing of a proposal. Gathering data on your current process will give you a base from which to measure improvement.
Once the process map is done, look for processes which are bottlenecks where you are dependent on the actions of a small number of individuals, for processes where activities are repeated, processes which are not required by the customer and any situation where rework or modifications are required. To improve capacity, these situations should all be addressed and new ways of working developed to reduce and ultimately eliminate them.
When designing and implementing changes, it is essential to involve the people in your business who currently operate the quotation system as they will most likely have ideas for making their jobs easier. Frustration is the biggest absorber of time and talent.
You can also increase your capacity to issue proposals by generating price lists for repeat orders and customers, using standard proposal templates and costing models, and making the best use of IT.
So, to summarise: map your processes; remove system bottlenecks and process waste; maximise the use of price lists, proposal templates and IT; and deliver what your customers value.
To find out more, contact MAS on 0845 658 9600 or visit www.mas.bis.gov.uk
Ross Ryan, manufacturing specialist, MAS East Midlands
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