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The purpose of this report is to provide process maps and detailed analysis of two core business procedures. It demonstrates the systems in place for an electricity company Call Centre answer process and the supply of Nike footwear to retail stores.
Both maps have been produced using mapping software which is in line with common mapping theory including Burlton's transformation model and Harman's Modelling Notations. The analysis first describes the different stages of each procedure in specific detail; it also explains which theory relates to each map and how this has been incorporated into each process diagram.
The report then continues to compare and contrast the maps against one another, including how they are different and the advantages of each. Each process stage of both maps is then examined and the document describes how it is possible to monitor and measure performance of the relevant business. The report attempts to break down the core processes into sections, and details how managers can physically install measurement procedures.
With regards to the electricity company call centre, one example of how performance is measured is how the operator conducts themselves, through tone of voice, enthusiasm of operator and usefulness of the information provided. In contrast the report suggests how the Nike managers could measure performance, for example monitoring the rate of production over a period of time, then comparing this to previous months and competitors.
In conclusion, the main aim of the report is to deliver clear yet sophisticated examples of business process maps, as well as demonstrating how theory can be incorporated into process mapping and how business managers can monitor and improve performance through process mapping.
Part A - Process Mapping and Descriptions
Process 1 - Call Center
This process map details the procedure of an electricity company call center. It is an interpretation of a process, and the information used has been taken from past experience of using call centers, and an informal interview with a former employee of a call center. The map begins with an existing customer calling the given number with an enquiry or emergency, and ends with the customer's needs being fulfilled in a satisfactory manner. There are three areas to the call center, the Interactive Voice Response system where customers can quickly solve any minor needs, the main call center, where more complicated needs are resolved, and the out of hours emergency line, where customers can report emergencies via an answering machine. The following is the brief procedure from start to finish:
A customer with an issue phones the call center telephone number. Immediately the customer is taken to the IVR system, and is given the option of continuing to use the IVR, or to speak to a customer service representative (CSR).
If the customer chooses to use the IVR, then they are prompted for their account number. They enter this by typing the number into the keypad. They are then given further options to either make a payment, or to update their meter readings. At any point during this process they can request to speak to a CSR.
If the customer requests to speak to a representative, then the IVR automatically checks the day and the time. If it is between 9 and 5 on a Monday to Friday, then the customer is taken to the call center, where they are put into a queue (see 2.0).
If it isn't between these days or times, then the customer is taken to an emergency response line, which is an automated answer machine message. If the call is an emergency, then an On-Call employee will be contacted. If it isn't an emergency, the machine will request them to call during normal business hours.
When customer reaches the front of the queue the CSR greets them and determines their need. There are two common reasons for a call. The first is an account query, and the second is a report of a power outage. Any other calls (not detailed on the map) are either dealt with instantly or are redirected on to an appropriate destination.
If the call is an account query, then the CSR asks for the accounts number, and confirms the name of the account holder. If the number isn't available the customer is requested to confirm the address instead. If none of these can be confirmed then the call is redirected to a call center supervisor. If the account number and name is correct, then the CSR determines the need of the customer. There are 6 main account requests, General enquiry, meter reading, account termination, maintenance, bill payment and a new account request. Each of these are not detailed in the map (they are marked as sub processes), however the CSR will deal with them.
If the call is to report a power outage or problem then the CSR will determine the issue, and will check the database to decide whether the company are already aware of the issue. If they are then the customer is informed and given any advice they may require. If the company is not aware of this issue then information is taken down and passed onto a call center supervisor who (as a sub process in the map) alerts the necessary personnel.
Process 2 - Completion of the Nike Air Max 180 trainer
Demonstrated in this Process Map is the sequence of events which Nike complete in order to get a finished product to the customer, in this case retail stores. It shows the entire process from how Nike locates and import various materials to manufacture the product all the way through to Nike supplying the retail stores. The specific details on the Process Map relate to the Nike Air Max 180 Trainer.
Processes involved in manufacturing and delivering goods:
For Nike the first point of action is to decide where to get materials from. Nike, being a large company, has the ability to find cheap options from all over the world and import large quantities taking advantage of economies of scale. Nike import materials mostly from China but also Argentina, as shown at the first stage of the process map.
In order for this to be successful Nike must:
Maintain regular contact with suppliers and build up successful relationships.
Constantly research into the cheapest methods of importing goods and where to source goods at the cheapest possible price.
Make sure they continue to import goods in large quantities to take advantage of economies of scale issues.
At this stage the Research and Development and the Operations/manufacturing departments have a significant effect on the firm's success rate and efficiency. Nike employees of these departments have to ensure the technology is maintained and used to its optimum effectiveness.
Once the product has been manufactured the firm must process and distribute the goods to the retail stores and other customers. This is shown on the final point of the process map.
Nike must make sure:
They use an effective database to organise customer relationships and manage all orders to ensure it is completed as quickly and professionally as possible.
Nike must consider a variety of logistical issues with regards to how they physically transport goods to customers; this is commonly conducted via container ships and HGVs.
During this particular process the financial departments are relevant as they are dealing with orders and all the costs incurred. Also the operations department has to manage the logistical issues involved in packing and distributing goods.
Processes involved in marketing and purchasing goods:
As well as the physical production of goods Nike must use extensive methods to market and attract customers and suppliers. As displayed in the process map Nike have installed various procedures to ensure all suppliers and customers follow various stages to ensure all orders are completed and managed effectively.
Nike use online databases of over 300 regular suppliers to monitor the performance and availability of particular companies.
Nike then selects appropriate companies and communicates their desire to enter into a business relationship.
If this supplier isn't already in a business relationship with Nike they must complete a 'New supplier set up form'
Then either new or existing clients must give a detailed description of the goods required.
If an existing customer proceeds Nike ask if the order is over £5000 worth of goods, if it is then the supplier must provide a 'specific Nike ten digit purchase order code'. If it is under $5000 then only the Nike employee's name is required who has process previous orders from this client.
Providing all the required information is presented the Nike will process the order.
Part B - Process Analysis
Both the Call centre procedure and the completion of the Nike Trainer procedure use the same process model. This is known as Burlton's Transformation model. Burlton's model for business process mapping uses 4 key process fundamentals, these being, inputs, outputs, guides and enablers.
An input is the first element of the process map and is described by Burlton (2001) as something that is utilized, consumed or transformed by an activity. The initial input for the call centre procedure would be the customer with an enquiry or an emergency. For the Nike Trainer process the input would be the raw materials to make the trainer.
The next key process element is the output. An output is the outcome of an activity or a process. In the call centers case, this would be a satisfied customer who had fulfilled their objectives of the initial phone call or potentially a new customer.
In Nikes case the output would be the finished Nike Air Max 180 trainer being distributed and received by the supplier.
Another element of the 4 key processes is guides. Burltons (2001) interpretation is "A guide provides knowledge and direction on how or when an activity occurs". In the call centers case, this would simply be to follow standard procedure. In Nikes case this would be regular contact with suppliers, research in to the cheapest methods of sourcing materials and import the required goods in large quantities to various factories.
The final key process element is called an enabler. An enabler is something that is used to carry out or complete an activity, i.e. machinery, human resources, the use of technology etc.
Another of Burlton's theories discusses Core and Support Processes. A core process is a process that represents the main business activities of the organizations and a support process is one that enables the core processes to function. Both procedures studied in this report are Core processes, as a call center generates a service, which aims to add-value and the supply of footwear to the retailer helps to add value for the organization through efficient production and delivery.
As displayed in the process map for both Nike trainers and Call Centre Procedure Harman's Business Process Modelling Notations have been used. This enables a universal understanding of the different symbols and diagrams used in complex process maps. This is now an industry standard, "The one that has the most support today in the Business Process Modelling Notation". (Harmon, P, 2007). This was developed by representatives of the leading business process modelling vendors under the auspices of the Business Process Management Initiative.
Described below are examples of the more common symbols used:
An Activity: A generic term for work that a company performs.
An Event: Something which happens during the course of a business process.
A Gateway: This commonly indicates a decision that determines which of two or more subsequent flows is to be followed.
A Sequence Flow: This is an arrow which is used to show the order that activities will be performed.
A Message Flow: This shows communication or the delivery of information between parties.
Main performance objectives and measures for success
Call Centre Procedure
The main performance objective of the call centre procedure is to cater to the customer's needs, usually solving a problem or completing a task hassle free and ultimately maintain customer satisfaction.
In this particular procedure, this is done by guiding the customer through simple stages in order to help them perform their intended objective with the use of an IVR system, or with the guidance of a customer service representative, depending on the objective and which option the customer selects.
These objectives could relate to the customer's account and could involve help paying bills, gathering information on meter readings, maintenance or taking general enquiries.
Another main performance objective for the call centre is to record and deal with problems received from customers, such as power outages and general complaints and ensure an appropriate solution is found. This should then be followed up to ensure the customer is happy.
Because there are only a small number of companies operating in the electricity sector, it's highly competitive industry and each company offer similar services. Providing a facility that's easy to use and a good customer service is vital as customers are less likely to seek another supplier.
There are a number of measures that managers that call center could use in order to gauge the performance of the call center. Listed below are taken from Feinberg et al. (2000), who studied the operational determinants of customer satisfaction in call centers.
- ASA (average speed of answer);
- Queue time (amount of time caller is in the line for answer);
- Percentage of callers who have satisfactory resolution on the first call;
- Abandonment rate (the percentage of callers who hang up or disconnect prior to answer);
- Average talk time (total time caller was connected to telephone service representative);
- Adherence (are agents in their seats as scheduled?);
- Average work time after call (time needed to finish paper work, do research after the call itself has been completed);
- Percentage of calls blocked (percentage of callers who receive a busy signal and could not even get in to the queue);
- Time before abandoning (average time caller held on before giving up in queue);
- Inbound calls per TSR eight-hour shift;
- TSR turnover (the number of telephone service representatives who left in a period of time usually annually);
- Total calls; and
- Service levels
In addition to using operational measures to evaluate performance, call centers have systems for continuous monitoring of their staff. When staff are monitored, calls are evaluated on aspects such as:
- Information provided
- Quality of information
- Tone of voice, and
- Enthusiasm of the agent
Broadly call centres use three types of monitoring. First is side-by-side monitoring in which a quality control staff sits besides an agent to supervise how he/she handles a particular call. These are particularly helpful to oversee how an agent uses computer support devices to retrieve data or information for handling a call. Second is remote monitoring in which calls are monitored at remote locations with the help of available technological means. In the third type of monitoring, call centres record specified number of calls. Out of three types of monitoring, in general, remote monitoring is more frequently used.
Managers can also measure performance by making follow up calls to customers a few days later. The idea of this is to get an idea of how efficient the staff are and how happy the customer is after the service provided. If there is a common pattern between un-happy customers and particular members of staff, management can inform the members of staff on their bad performance and monitor them on their improvement. Managers can also take steps to rectify common occurring problems to ensure higher customer satisfaction.
The supply of Nike products to a retail stores
As demonstrated in the Nike Trainer process map, there are many different stages a Nike Air Max 180 Trainer goes through from being manufactured to being dispatched to a particular retail store.
The main performance objectives of the Nike process map are to go through all these stages in the most cost and time efficient way possible. This is to maximise profits and maintain customer satisfaction. This process starts with the marketing and manufacturing department, whose job is to source the materials that make up the trainer for the lowest cost possible but still keeping that level of quality you expect from Nike. Commonly, materials are imported from countries such as China and Argentina but this can change depending on cost efficiency. Nike overtime builds up relationships with reliable and efficient suppliers from these countries, this would be recognised as the partnerships model, where "Supplier selection is based on their performance following a wide range of criteria, and there is a long term commitment to supplier development and the building of partnerships." (Zairi, M, 2007) By doing this Nike build long term commitments which benefit both parties as a standard practice of business practice is developed, for example the same dates of delivery and method of transportation may be used each time a transaction occurs.
It is then up to the manufacturing department to assemble the Trainer and this is done on a large production scale in Vietnam. Orders are then made for the finished Nike product by current customers or parties that have been approached by Nike and requested to enter a business relationship after analysing their in depth business practices and reputation. Nike is constantly searching for more business opportunities, and has an extensive customer base.
After the Nike trainer is assembled and orders have been made, it is up to the financial department to process the orders and the costs incurred. They do this by using intricate technology that manages the Physical Distribution Management issues. Nike is fully aware of the benefits of this as are many other businesses. The reason why this method is so popular is due to the convenience and time saving advantages. Another benefit is that "Distributing and marketing managers now have more accurate information on probable future demand for thousands of different products." (Herron, D, P, 1981) This demonstrates that even early computer systems were providing considerable advantages to Physical Distribution Management. The Operations department then make sure the trainer is distributed to the necessary location as quickly and efficiently as possible in line with the retail stores contact agreements which ultimately ensures that they reach the buyer on time.
As with all business procedures mangers have the opportunity to monitor and measure performance of each process in a variety of methods. Commonly successful operations are monitored and examined in depth to ensure all resources are being utilized to maximum capability. When taking the Nike process maps the first stage where it is possible to measures success would be once all the necessary materials are gathered ready for production. Nike managers could analyze how promptly the suppliers have delivered the goods and if they are receiving goods at a beneficial price. This could be compared to previous transactions or if possible the rates the completion is paying. Once the goods have been manufactured and Nike is left with finished products. A common measurement method used in many businesses would be to monitor production output e.g. the quantity of goods produced over a certain period of time. Again Nike could compare this to previous months as well as production rates in their other factories. If performance figures aren't as good as they should be successful managers will find out why and how the problem can be solved.
- Harmon, P. (2007). Business Process Change, Morgan Kaufmann.
- Herron, D. P. (1981). "The Use of Computers in Physical Distribution Management." Management Decision 19(7): 26.
- Richard A. Feinberg, I.-S. K. a. L. H., Ko de Ruyter and Cherie Keen (2000). "Operational determinants of caller satisfaction in the call center." International Journal of Service Industry Management, 11(2): 11.
- Zairi, M. (1998). "Best practice in supply chain management: the experience of the retail sector." European Journal of Innovation Management 1(2): 8.
- Burlton, R. (2001), Business Process Management: Profiting from Process, Sams, Indianapolis, IN.