Mr. Miyagi, after his disappointment with Allan, came back to his home, and went through his day to day work. He was still thinking about the office he saw. He was thinking how different that office was. It was a truly new experience for him. Mr. Miyagi thought to himself, “Implementing lean manufacturing in that environment would have been an interesting challenge”
Time passed, it was 2.30 pm. His doorbell rang. Mrs. Miyagi, opened the door and spoke to the visitor, and came back to Mr. Miyagi and told him that there is a visitor called Allan to meet him. Mr. Miyagi wasn’t surprised. He slowly walked to the door and asked, “How are you Allan?”, “you are about six hours late” he added with a smile. Allan said he is very sorry about what happened early in the day. And he explained that he was with one of his former customer, who is very much unhappy about the service his firm was offering. Meeting was scheduled to be finished by 10 am, but it went on till 12 in the noon. “Last thing I want to do was to walk out from that meeting” added Allan. Come inside, invited Mr. Miyagi. Both sat on a sofa and started talking about what happened in the morning and what is going on in the business in general.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Miyagi came with a nice pot of tea and kept it on the table and disappeared. Mr. Miyagi helped Allan with making his tea and made himself a cup, and had a sip. Mr. Miyagi explained Allan how different his office was. Allan smiled and said “We embrace the open culture. We do not care what our people do in or out of our organization, if the work is done”. “OK” said Mr. Miyagi and asked “Allan, how do you define work? And how do you know it is done?” Allan was stuck for a moment. And he replied “Mr. Miyagi, well we have a detailed project plan with a manager responsible for the entire project and every member is assigned specific tasks from that project plan. That is how we basically work”. OK Allan, you replied how you delegate work, but how do you measure the work is done? asked Mr. Miyagi. “Well, when the project is gone live, that is when the project completed, we have completed each task. It is simple” Allan replied. “OK, then how do you get problems after the completion of project? Has some one not done their job correct?” asked Mr. Miyagi. Allan replied after thinking little “Yes, we have found in some cases people have not done their job correct. But that is not the major issue. Sometimes, or if I may call it, most of the times, customer disappointment is something to do with we do not match to their expectations. We have gone through all the routines we should follow in a project. But still we have all these problems. If the customer is not happy, we are in trouble, although we have delivered all what we agreed. This is how our industry works, I guess”
With this explanation, very important thing hit Mr. Miyagi. With his vast experience, he recalled similar scenarios from various industries and how they overcame the issues. It was somewhat clear to him that there is a problem in the main process itself. Process of understanding what customer wants and converting it to the language their firm understand, and creating the solution and converting it back to the customer’s language, all familiar to Mr. Miyagi. He is a consultant himself, he knows what can go wrong in the process and has good experience in correcting them. Although Mr. Miyagi cannot even wright a piece of program for himself, he knows writing the program is only a small part of the process. He knew and felt there is something wrong in the full process. With all these in mind, he asked Allan “How about the quality of your software? I mean is it working well? You know I do not understand this technical stuff. I just want to know how you test the quality of your end product. If I may bring an analogy, when I was working for a manufacturer making electrical items, they used to check the quality of the product from the designing stage. They evaluated the design of the product and then they checked the raw material, and then they routinely checked the product after every stage of manufacturing and then they used to check the finish product as well. How do you do this in your case?” Mr. Miyagi tried to understand whether there is a problem with the core product Allan’s firm is making, which is the software they develop.
“Well, we do follow somewhat similar process. Our architects design the solution after looking into the customer’s requirement”. “Architects?”, Mr. Miyagi asked with curiously. Allan smiled and said “Yes, Architects. Well they do not build or design buildings in our case. But they do design our solutions”, Allan paused for a moment and started all over again. “Well after creating the design, our specialist from each area takes over and them and their respective teams will do the coding. They will do a testing themselves and we have some separate set of people to test the system. They also do testing before releasing the product for last stages. And even after all the integration is done, we do another full testing to check whether the solution is working as we intend it to be. To be honest, we comply at least 90% of the times with the original requirement specs. With some of the corrections, we might comply up to 97%. This is a very good figure, considering our industry.” Although Mr. Miyagi could not understand everything Allan was explaining, one thing was clear from Allan’s explanations. Allan’s firm delivers value to their customer from their perspective. So he asked “Well, still your customers are not happy, aren’t they?”. Allan said “Yes, sadly, that is the problem”.
Mr. Miyagi wants to end the conversation for the day. “Well we will discuss this further in next week. When can we meet?” asked Mr. Miyagi. Well we will meet next Tuesday, sharp 9.30 am said Allan. Mr. Miyagi agreed. He with a fatherly smile said, “You better be there by 9.30”. Discussion took almost an hour and Allan left after thanking Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Miyagi was still thinking, with all his expertise he felt little confused and he felt this is not going to be easy. With today’s discussion between Mr. Miyagi and Allan, there is much more light on the issues they face. Now things are slightly clearer than it was earlier.
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