I am helping a large corporate client organize their purchasing system for routine print orders.

Here are the questions I am asking:

1. What is the Old Guard used to? What do they LOVE and take pride in about the present system?
Usually, early systems in an organization are based on trust and feeling trustworthy. Why would I want to mess with that? These are the people who got us where we are today.

2. How and where can we open up better communication between the departments who use and request printing?
At the moment, the folks in Finance might request stationery just days after Marketing has received their delivery. In the world of printing, combined orders can save a whole lot of money, not to mention the frustration of discovering that big box of letterhead at the front desk isn’t for you!

Amid proliferating departments and quickly changing roles, we just need to improve the way we turn around to key users and say, “Need some, too?”

3. Where else are we wasting time, effort and money?
Stick real close to the order process (all the way through to delivery and storage of materials), and ask lots of dumb questions.

We set up an order log, and entered all routine print orders for the previous 18 months. We included quantities, requestor’s name, printer’s name, price and print specs. By breaking the order log into sections, we could see the history of each item (such as letterhead, envelopes and window envelopes) separately. This was a very simple, but powerful way to see trends emerge and anticipate future needs. The order log lives on the company’s Wiki site, so anyone can access the information at any time.

4. Who gets the price before the order, and who gets the bill after it is delivered? If it’s two different individuals, how do they compare notes?
For the person who ordered, it’s a matter of closure. For the one who gets the bill, the need is for context. By facilitating communication, we’ve restored accountability.

Remember, the pluses of the original system are an excellent place to look for new systems. Often, all we need to do is make it easier for people to do what they were already doing. Make adjustments for growth within that strong foundation.


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