QFD for product & business development

Aligning Business Focus

Aligning Business Focus

Aligning Business Focus – Harnessing autonomous and independent businesses to a common vision

Profile

Siemens Shared Services is the result of efforts to centralise all of the non-core activities (such as accounting, facilities, purchasing, IT, intellectual property, pensions, tax, legal etc.) within Siemens plc. The organisation acts as a contractor to supply and manage all of these services, thereby freeing the operating divisions to concentrate on their core business, and also introducing economies of scale to keep the cost of the service to a minimum. Initially the organisation focused on providing a purely internal service, but more recently it has been contracting-out its services to other third-party companies outside of the group.

Issues

Until recently, Siemens Shared Services had been a collection of individual businesses working independently to sell their services within the parent organisation, and outside. Many of the heads of these individual business units were appointed for their entrepreneurial flair as well as their technical expertise.
With the drive to solicit more work externally, and to secure a greater percentage of the business within the parent group, it had become clear that there was now a greater need for the separate service businesses to work together. Where the market seeks to buy two or more services from the portfolio it expects a consistency between the offerings and approaches provided by the organisation, and in a competitive market there is also a need to ensure that a lead for one service is also recognised as an opportunity for others. In addition, some organisations outsource their services en-masse and there is clearly a need to coordinate a coherent, even seamless, response to such opportunities.

Objective

QFD provides an excellent means to pull the organisation behind a coherent set of objectives. However, the organisation was culturally still very much a collection of independent (and sometimes fiercely independent) businesses and it was necessary therefore to adapt the QFD approach in order to provide much of the insight and opportunities while avoiding the formal QFD’s intense dependency on consensus.
The goal therefore was to use an adapted form of QFD to gain agreement on a common vision and to develop/define some basic common processes to support its achievement. At the same time, the adapted QFD had to allow the commitment of the business unit heads to evolve at their own pace.

Approach

In 2001, Siemens Shared Services appointed a new Managing Director who is particularly skilled in QFD, and in systematic and facilitative approaches to management. In preparation for the work on QFD he established a small core team to develop four Common Processes to support each of the service businesses: business development; finance; HR and IT (shown in the diagram on the right). These provide a practical means by which approaches can be harmonised in a supportive and non-intrusive manner. On the basis of a number of interviews with the heads of the various service businesses, and also with the owners of the Common Processes, two two-day workshops were developed. In the first workshop, the service business heads worked together to develop a common vision for the organisation, to translate that into clear measures and targets, and to understand the implications for the Common Processes. In the second workshop the service business heads reconciled their own performance targets to the overall vision and objectives.

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