INTERFACE PROCESS IN TQM
The interface process has been designed so as to get maximum leverage in the minimum period of time by smoothening out internal (within the organization) customer-supplier relationships.
Internal Customer Interface
1. Where there are people interacting with each other and there are problems.
2. Where groups of people interact with groups of people there will be problems.
3. When one function interacts with another function there will be problems.
4. People problems once resolved are never resolved forever.
5. Environment continuously.
6. Management need not solve problems.
7. Individual egos will always come in the way of problem solving.
Problems in Real time
This is not a theoretical exercise and the customer department is expected to state its needs to the supplier department based on the actual problems faced by them which in turn affects the external customer so the whole interface is designed around problems that are meaningful and exist in reality at the time of the interface.
The nature of the Interface
It is interesting to note that people are actually not unreasonable and that they are products of the system and culture in which they operate. The needs which re listed out by the customer departments fall into three clear cut categories.
Needs that can be met
Much like the external customer, the internal customer also, in many instances, does not communicate his needs specifically to the supplier department, yet believes he has done so. In these cases the response of the supplier departments: â€œIf you had told us this before we would have done it.â€? These needs do not require any discussion or negotiation with the supplier teams. If it is possible for the supplier department to do this they would find such needs legitimate and within the realm of their action.
Needs that cannot be met
These are needs raised by a customer department, but on which the supplier department is unable to take any action because of a laid down policy or management directives. Discussion on these issues is also meaningless as it would create ill will between the customer and supplier teams.
The internal customer interface focuses largely on these types of needs where the supplier team is unable to meet the needs of the customer department even though legitimate, because of various constraints of resources and inadequate communication between both parties. During the interface, with the help of the trained management facilitator, the perceptions of both supplier and customer teams are classified and an acceptable solution is arrived at.
It is this part of the interface that takes time and where the personal egos come into the picture. In due course, both parties understand that it is to their benefit to have mutually acceptable solutions, without directives of the top management, as the clarification of long standing perceptions considerably reduces interpersonal and inter-group conflicts.