The Flow of Information
A customer walks into your pizza shop carrying a lunch menu flyer. The cashier greets the customer and gets the order. A ticket is printed out and sent back to the head cook. The ticket is reviewed and its details are relayed to the cooks. In about 30 minutes, a fresh hot pizza is taken out of the oven, boxed and given to the customer. This exchange repeats until the store closes at 10, at which a bookkeeper records the sales for the day. Over several days, enough cash is put in the bank to print new specials and menu items on flyers to be handed out to potential customers.
No matter whether you’re a pizza a shop or manufacturing company, information needs to flow seamlessly in a team. In the example of the pizza shop, we saw four areas communicating with each other: Marketing – a person handing out flyers to customers; Sales – the cashier; Operations – the cooks; and Finance – the bookkeeper. All 4 have a pivotal role in providing value to the customer, in this case a perfectly cooked pizza.
Marketing generates leads through outbound communication, either digitally or physically. Potential customers are attracted and inquire more information about the company or their product. Over time, marketing collects enough data to build and refine the customer profile. Once a potential customer becomes ripe enough, marketing relays the lead and their information over to sales.
Because of the work by marketing, the sales team is able to develop a closer relationship with the customer in order to move closer to a final deal. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few months, depending on the complexity of the product or service. Once enough information is gathered and the customer is a ready, an order is created and handed off to operations.
An order acts as a blueprint for the operation’s team to properly execute the product or service. As the product or service is built, there may be more communication between the customer and operations. Once the service or product is rendered, the satisfied customer provides payment which is collected by finance.
Finance deposits the payment into a checking account for future needs. It is their job to manage the short- and long-term requirements including payroll and inventory, and new equipment and facilities, respectively. If the business is run successfully, more capital flows in than flows out, allowing for greater opportunities to grow. As a result, marketing is provided a larger budget to attract more customers, and the cycle repeats.
Initially, the pattern is circular, but over time these four functions become braided like a rope. Certain information from each function is useful to another. Operations is able to provide new products and services information to marketing and sales so they can alert new and current customers. Finance works with sales, marketing, and operations to determine whether they need software to automate their newsletters; more sales staff to build more and better engagements with customers; new equipment to build products faster and of higher quality than before. Sales and operations provides feedback from customers to marketing help focus on the right customers and present those customers the right message. However, the main current still flows from marketing to sales to operations to finance.
As more information flows into the company, it is imperative that data exchanges hands within the organization uninhibited and with a purpose. An inefficient organization can have a lack of communication – a sales team that promises to deliver a product in 2 months when operations says it will take at least 4 months to build; or too much communication – employees are flooded with irrelevant emails, crippling their productivity. If data doesn’t flow harmoniously, one braid of the rope loses its strength and snaps, leaving the other 3 strands to hold the weight until they ultimately meet the same fate.
Does it feel like you’re holding on by a thread? Give us a call and we’ll help your organization build their strength to carry the load.