Original Date: 10/27/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : New Project Review
Auto-Valve, Inc. implemented a New Project Review process that optimizes the quality of response and response time turn-around to existing and potential customers. The process of identifying leads, following-up on quotes and contracts, and accepting orders has been streamlined and is now seamless as a result of well executed tracking and communications tools.
Obtaining work orders is a serious business for Auto-Valve, Inc. (AVI), and responding to existing and potential customers is a top priority. The process of identifying leads, following-up on quotes and contracts, and accepting orders has been streamlined and is now seamless as a result of a well executed New Project Review process that optimizes the quality of response and response time turn-around.
Most orders originate from existing customers but may contain new requirements that must be reviewed and engineered, and new quotes established. However, potential new orders can result from new customers requiring off-the-shelf designs and/or new designs. Whether the orders are existing or potential, they are treated as new leads and executed with the New Project Review process. Prior to 2001, the tasks of following-up on new leads, providing quotes, establishing contracts, and accepting orders were managed by the Sales Manager. All information from the customers regarding production definition, specifications, quantities, and schedules traveled through a single point source, the Sales Manager, who in turn routed the tasking to various departments within AVI. In a small company, this process becomes a problem when one person is the single throughput source for disbursement. As a result, updates and responses to customers could be delayed for weeks. At times, there was not even a follow-up. Only a few new customers and projects actually developed into orders.
In 2001, AVI’s goal was to respond to all possible opportunities for orders regardless of whether they were existing or potential customers. All new leads are now entered on an Excel spreadsheet where the customer, project name, and requirement descriptions are listed. Each entry also lists the customer’s key point of contact for a specific project, and assigns the project owner within AVI who is responsible for follow-up. The spreadsheet contains an information column denoting action items for each project, another column listing a promise date (if established), and a final column for internal notes. Only the Sales Manager enters the data; however, all managers and the AVI President have access to view the spreadsheet. Bi-weekly summary updates are distributed internally. A New Valve Definition form was employed for use with each project to capture salient features of potential orders (e.g., valve functional description, method of operation, outside envelope dimensions, operating fluid). This form serves as an excellent communication tool between AVI and the customer to ensure all features have been identified and both parties have communicated properly. Customers now communicate directly with AVI’s Quality, Contracts, Operations, and Engineering Managers without the requirement of going through the Sales Manager, thus eliminating the choke point that once existed.
As a result of AVI’s New Project Review process, all opportunities to follow-up on new leads for potential orders receive immediate and thorough attention. Management and project owners know the exact status of each project in the review cycle and what actions are required. Better up-front information is extracted and conveyed from the customer to AVI, which has contributed to faster response and quote turn-around times. Additionally, the number of projects quoted in 2003 has increased by 30%, and six new customers and two new markets have been added.
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