Much is learned by what the last step requires to successfully fulfill order shipments. And that’s checking before packing an order and at last, manifesting the order. I refer to it as ‘downstream wisdom.’ It’s where the worm of success is eaten. While no step in the order process is to be ignored, tracking an order up stream ultimately finds the problem.
While not known with the likes of Henry Ford, for instance, W. Edwards Deming’s principles were the basis of Japan’s ability to master manufacturing. While culturally Mr. Deming was an American, Japan on the other hand was culturally ready to leap into cost effective and quality manufacturing to spur the country’s growth after WWII. American business at the time did not embrace his principles.
Basically, when management manages from the floor and not the corner office, processes will improve and greater success ensues. A manager ensures that ‘downstream wisdom’ is being applied throughout the order cycle. For me, that’s it. Basically, managers at Karol are physically part of the process. The information obtained is used to configure the best of work environments to satisfy 98.99 percent of client customer order—and we ‘catch’ client errors as well. (If the percentage is higher, the variables our clients want us to handle are fewer.)
Deming’s principles are applied to product and kit-to-ship assemblies as well. Order fulfillment is logistics by any other name and as much to keep fees down to satisfy margins for e-commerce and multi-channel clients. None of it is rocket science but science it is to complete assembly and when necessary, packaging (paperboard, shrink wrapping, etc.) successfully.
I never did like referring to our operation as the back end, but rather the ‘downstream’ and never, never the outback.