As a company grows and matures from a startup entrepreneurial venture to a sustainable corporation, the departments and company services that begin as good ideas expand and evolve to support the company’s growing business. Many times these services simply develop without any strategic vision resulting in institutionalized behaviors that are incompatible with the company’s business goals and objectives. Consequently, the transition to a larger corporation becomes a challenge. A notable example is a company’s Engineering Services Department.
When people think of Engineering Services, the Customer Support or Help Desk team is what first comes to mind. However, other services such as Product Training, Field Services (product installation and troubleshooting), and Engineering Sales Support may be provided as well.
As a product development company begins selling product, the Customer Support function becomes one of its first service offerings whether or not it recognizes it as such. In addition, it is natural for the focus of the Customer Support function to be on pleasing their customer base, as many sales are contingent upon repeat business and word of mouth until the company and its product line become established in the marketplace. Nevertheless, without a clear idea of its charter and strategic direction to support business growth and identify new markets and service offerings, the Customer Support Specialists focus instead on supporting their customer base on non-company and non-product issues and questions that consume internal resources without any tangible benefit to the company. Once a company starts banging its head on the “glass ceiling” as it attempts to grow, the leadership may recognize that its current Engineering Services approach does not support its strategic business goals and objectives.
In these circumstances, the company is not necessarily interested in implementing the CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC) and becoming appraised to either Maturity Level 2 or Maturity Level 3. However, by using the Continuous Representation, the CMMI-SVC can provide the needed guidance to help a company restructure and reorganize its Engineering Services approach in order to become a profit center or revenue generating function.
In this presentation, we will present a case study for OMNI Flow Computers, Inc., a company that specializes in the design, development, and manufacture of panel-mount multi-run, multi-tasking liquid and gas flow computers, and field-mount, hazardous area controllers/RTUs for liquid and gas custody transfer metering systems. The challenge facing OMNI was to develop its Engineering Services Department into a high-functioning, customer-driven profit center. OMNI’s Engineering Services Department consists of three groups: Customer Support, Training, and Engineering Field Services. Customer Support handles customer questions, concerns, and issues. The Training group provides training on the OMNI product line to its customers and users. Engineering Field Services provides on-site troubleshooting services on an as-needed basis.
As the Training and Engineering Field Services groups were recent additional capabilities, Customer Support presented the biggest obstacle to overcome. Noted management consultant Peter Drucker declared several years ago that Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. Moreover, an obstacle to achieving this objective was one of the core challenges faced by the department: developing an appropriate customer focus and developing new service offerings. A major reason for these challenges is the nature of OMNI products. OMNI's customers integrate their products into custody transfer systems that involve a wide variety of large-scale hardware and electronic equipment from other manufacturers. OMNI’s customers usually develop and commission these systems for their clients and end users. Therefore,