Supply Fulfillment Standard Operation Procedures – Prelude
Most of us appreciate and view standard operating procedures (SOPs) as crucial job components that help us do our jobs. Some are simple one-page step-by-step procedures, “bucket filed” after a few uses. Others are dog-eared pages essential to effective business operations.
Although I have been blogging for the past several years, I still refer to the “Adding a New Blog Post to PrintTracker.net” SOP each time a new post is created. Steps have been added and amended over the years, and I find the guide to be a real time saver.
After all, SOPs are really just efficiency tools, no different than use of Outlook, a calendar, a task reminder, sticky note or tablet. Procedural SOPs ensure all task stages are considered so processes can be successfully completed. At our company, SOPs are readily accessible to anyone who wants step-by-step instruction.
Patrons have come to rely on the software “User’s Guides” we publish to the eLearning page of our website … over 200 and growing since last count. One-page “HOW TOS” are intended as quick reference guides; where others are comprehensive downloadable overviews and instructions to more advanced concepts.
Some of the documents are intended for direct end-user distribution; they help offset security or compliancy concerns (White Papers, FERPA, FISMA, HIPAA, etc.) Guides may be pictured instructions to install the software, initiate advanced IP address searches, or gather locally connected device information.
Credentialed clients can access eLearning to download a variety of helpful supply related documents:
Device Status and Alerting Guide
Reportable Service Alerts
Activating Service and Supply Alerts
Toner Alert Reporting on Troublesome Devices
Checking for Toner Replacement
Service and Supply Alert Reports
Supply Fulfillment ‘Best Practices’
From time-to-time we are asked, “What should be included in business plans to focus on supply fulfillment?” To that end, we published Supply Survey findings; the results obtained from a survey we posted. Comments offered by our readers helped to “flesh” out what will be discussed here and in related postings.
Enter the Supply Fulfillment SOP
In keeping with the blog’s title “Managed Print Basics – Becoming an MPS Champion …” and our “Simple. Smart. Solutions. Service.” axiom, we wanted to offer more to patrons and readers alike.
Please understand, what follows is not a ‘Supply Fulfillment SOP’ final product, nor meant to supplant any practices all ready in use by clients and readers. The content is intended, like other postings, to provoke thought, offer ideas and help improve a business’ basic customer service offering.
No “all inclusive” claims are made. The goal would be for readers to use the information presented to create a Supply Fulfillment SOP that fits their own business model. Some of the information offered will be useful; some may not. It is left to the reader to decide what should be included in their SOP.
Where to begin?
The supply survey conducted in late summer 2015 revealed that supply fulfillment was well defined among those who participated. Over two thirds of the respondents indicated their company has standard fulfillment practices in place or at the very least, have some of their processes well documented.
In smaller organizations oversight fell to the president or owner; in larger, individual department VPs. The survey revealed while there was no clear-cut administrative person, the majority of supply programs were managed by a director of operations, a service executive and/or an MPS manager.
Typical management groups responsible for supply fulfillment often include ‘Executive’, ‘Finance’, ‘Service’, and ‘Quality Control’. (In small organizations, a single person may be involved in one or more of these areas.) Each manager, VP or executive will need to consider different aspects of the program.
Dedicated supply teams perform under management direction to run day-to-day business operations. Ownership and executives need to make certain their people follow instructions, so naturally it falls on an organization’s management team to define procedures and set fulfillment practices and policies.
The executive’s goal is to expand and grow business. Successful engagements can be measured by “money in the bank” or relevant to fulfillment, profit from supply sales. Satisfied customers and happy staff who enjoy their jobs can also be a measure of success; both are needed to build the business.
The executive office selects the parts provider(s), and details plans for all aspects of managed services including sales, service and supply fulfillment. In order to formulate a well designed plan, the executive may gather input from department heads and VPs before sitting down to create a successful program.
While any executive member may “own” the business, financial matters should be made independent of other considerations. After all, the financial well being of the enterprise depends on constant checks and balances. Policies and practices affect the bottom line, especially when they are not defined or followed.
Best practice controls should include monitoring supply inventory in the warehouse, on service trucks, in transit from supplier to customer, in transit from warehouse to customer, and for safety stock at customer location. Losses in any of these areas affect profitability and good accounting practices should be defined.
Good fiscal responsibility for supply fulfillment may be measured in increasing revenue from supply sales. In order for this to happen, ongoing and continuous training for the receiving and shipping team is encouraged. After all, it is important for someone to know the whereabouts of unpaid inventory.
Inventory tracking and reporting involves more than just the location of sellable parts or supplies. Revenue accounts need to be monitored for pricing, profitability, and potential losses. Thumb drives used for software deployment and control of supplies inventory purchased for internal use should be watched as well. Financial responsibility includes the monitoring of all materials and assets.
Service departments typically oversee software deployment and installation management. Installations may be simple or complex depending on the nature of the dealer’s customer’s business. Complex deployments may require the services of the dealership’s service manager, IT department or other qualified technicians.
In order for discovered devices to provide accurate details, reporting capability should be verified during deployment. SNMP can be enabled as needed, and device firmware and drivers updated as required. Installers can configure the software to send status alerts to specific addresses at time of installation as well.
In addition, good service involves strong and knowledgeable phone support, quick resolution of calls, efficient routing and dispatch of technicians and field support, coordinated product delivery and quality emergency service. AND don’t forget to include service tracking and invoice processing as well.
To achieve peak proficiency, staff should be able to access MPS manuals and documents to make certain the data collected by the software is properly maintained and managed. Dispatch and shop staff along with field and service teams should receive regular and ongoing training. So too should fulfillment teams.
Lastly, the dealer’s parts and supply warehouses should work in concert with service departments; technician cars should always be in-stock, efficient parts ordering and sound supply shipping processes in place, expert receiving operations adhered to, and well-organized warranty return-to-vendor practices followed.
The goal of every service department should be an increasing number of happy customers who give referrals and testimonials. Success can be measured in minimal out-of-stock calls and strong service operations.
The goal of any quality control program is to achieve and maintain high standards. Well trained teams that follow defined business practices are just the beginning. Customer satisfaction can be measured through the administration of MPS satisfaction surveys to round out the quality control mission.
Surveys will show MPS sales, service and supply goals are being met or when training may be needed. Quality can be measured in the number of surveys distributed vs. the number returned. Management should be reviewing surveys and the statistics they reveal so that correction plans can be implemented as needed.
… In Summary
There is much to consider when developing a Supply Fulfillment SOP. First – commit to and develop a plan: Gather input and develop a workable plan. Be specific … Assign tasks … Follow up. Define goals, set success benchmarks for all departments involved and prepared to make mid-course corrections.
Second– make certain the executive, financial, service, quality control teams are prepared: Describe how the supply program will be administered. Define expected impact to inventory control, dispatch and service teams. Identify and set financial benchmarks to be achieved.
Third – Make supply fulfillment part of your customer service plan: Add supply fulfillment to your company culture by getting everyone involved and seek feedback to ensure program success.
And finally – DO NOT ABANDON WHAT IS WORKING TODAY!!!!
Posted by Brian Dawson, Sales and Marketing Director, Print Tracker, LLC
Brian is a productivity specialist, sales coach, mentor; offering managed print solutions world-wide with Print Tracker software.