Simplify, Simplify — Part II

I’m now getting hate mail from sales reps and CSRs.  OK.  I understand the concerns – but I used to get hate mail from typographers and strippers when I suggested that their days were numbered.  I’m not saying sales reps and CSRs are going to go away – I’m suggesting that we need to do things differently.  With today’s workflow and movement of files, do we really need sales reps holding a customer’s hand?  Do CSRs really need to be running all over the plant chasing down jobs?  If you look at our industry’s more sophisticated operations, they’ve integrated their MIS systems with their production workflow.  So, why aren’t more companies doing so?  As always it gets down to money – and vision.

The software technology exists to truly have a Management Information System and an integrated production workflow.  But it takes a capital investment in “non-production” equipment AND re-training our team to work differently.  And if you think about it, our front offices still operate very similar to how they did 15-20 years ago.  Not true for our production folks.

Do I have an answer? NO, each company is different, but the need to squeeze costs out of our traditional workflow in the front office is necessity for all companies.

Here are some thoughts to consider: Does your sales and CSR team still operate the way it did 10 years ago?  What have you done to reduce the touch points between the estimating process and order entry?  Are you estimating from a price list?  Why not?  Are you still having production meetings every day?  Why?  What can you do so that these meetings are not necessary?  What can (must) be done to simplify the process?  It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be painful.  So put on your Big Boy/Girl pants, and get after it!

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