Becoming ‘The Easy Button’

By Beacon Staff

Ever made life difficult for internal customers?

Last week, I was talking to a friend who works for a large multi-national corporation.

It reminded me about corporate culture, which I’ve missed out on since my Electronic Data Systems (EDS) days. That was the pre-GM, pre-HP, Ross Perot get-things-done era.

The conversation reminded me that Big Corp can often get an outside vendor to provide a service faster, better and cheaper than an internal corporate division that was built and funded to provide those services to employees.

It also reminded me how easy it might be for companies to lay off thousands at a time.

Thousands. Sometimes tens of thousands.

Think about the financial, cultural and emotional impact on a community when that occurs, not to mention the impact of those workers on their employer’s financials from a return on investment perspective.

Ouch.

What’s your corporate pleasure?

Your small business might specialize in the type of work that a corporate person needs from their internal division – but can’t get. That work might be hydrology, remote sensing or language translation.

No matter what it is, I expect that your business is likely do a better job than a corporate division or department that is supposed to take care of those services for their company.

Sometimes “better job” means “we actually deliver the service”, sometimes more.

The internal customer goes out on the open market and finds cooperative, hungry vendor, beats them up on price (perhaps), sets a deadline and then has the audacity to expect on-time delivery.

All of that happens faster and with far less hassle than dealing with the internal department designed to do this work for the company.

Profits are hard to come by when there are whole buildings full of people making life difficult for their colleagues.

Instead of pushing the issue and making a stink within their management food chain, those colleagues get the job done because they need the job done sooner rather than later.

They don’t have time for “Dancing with the Stars” management politics.

They don’t need a five week wait, a nine meeting approval process, an internal purchase order and the signatures of 12 people to get an engineering report.

They just need the work done: the What-You-Do version of the Staples “Easy Button”.

Divide and Conquer
One thing I always found interesting (if not amusing) was the widespread acceptance of  ”small” $2999 (or some similarly “almost the next big amount” number) corporate credit card payments.

Corporate card holders can spend up to some amount of that nature every month without purchase orders, without RFPs, without any other massive paperwork and they can buy TODAY.

Today, that is, if you are willing to accept split payments over a few months so that this person can get the work done rather than spend all their time writing proposals, reviewing bids and greasing the finance committee.

To be sure, some spending abuse can occur this way, but most of the time, it happens because the grind to get things done through channels is more work than the work you actually want to get done.

I mention this to make sure that your corporate clients are well aware that you offer this sort of thing as a payment option.

The corporate buyer’s responsibility is to get things done. Internal purchasing policy hassles make for a poor excuse to upper management. Fixing those hassles is management’s job, so it is ironic that they will find them poor excuses.

Regardless, your direct contacts have things they need to get done. Help them do so.

The Employee Shoe
If you’re the corporate type, one thing to be very careful of here is that the treatment you get as an internal customer doesn’t negatively affect your work with your external customers.

Sometimes it’s hard, but I can tell you this – if you think and work like a business owner rather than as an employee, you’ll be the one who benefits in the long run.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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