Go With the Workflow
Knowledge, flexibility and a measure of skill will produce results in the manufacturing market
By Maggie DeWitt
Faisal Ahmad, president of Dallas-based USFI believes you have two choices in life, to be either or-dinary or extraordinaryand the skill involved in servicing the manufacturing market necessitates distributors be members of the latter group.
Designing manufacturing solutions is a research project involving extensive fact-finding missions and experiments with materials and samples before discovering the correct application, said Ahmad. He added that regardless of whether it's a form, tag or label, "the distributor must go in as a consultant, and walk out as a supplier."
And while e-forms are becoming the format of choice, noted Ahmad, cutting into profits for distributors, "the priority should always be doing the best thing for the customer, even if it means reduced revenue."
The single most important thing to remember in providing forms solutions to manufacturers is that you are not there to redesign or improve the workflow, according to Ahmad.
"Competent engineers have already created a well-defined system," he explained. "What the engineers don't know is how to design an efficient form, and that's where the forms professional comes in."
Creating an effective tool to facilitate that system requires a thorough understanding of the workflow. The distributor needs to be oriented to the entire pro-cess, which may require multiple interviews. "Each time the form is touched by someone, ask why," Ahmad suggested, "not to challenge the workflow, but to better understand the process."
The goal is to provide an end-to-end solution which requires thinking beyond production to encompass every phase of the operation until the order is closed outincluding data entry, in-voicing and filing the paperwork.
However, problems can arise when customers fancy themselves forms designersespecially if they've developed their own form in-house.