Monday, September 1, 2014
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Glossary of common business terminology

A B C E F I L M N O P Q R S T V W Y


A

ANSWERS

An answer is a complete, accurate response (or proactively delivered information product) which satisfies the customer’s question on the first attempt. Answers are products.


ATTRIBUTE
An expectation or design characteristic of a product, process or outcome. All attributes are measurable.
• Performance attributes describe objective criteria.
• Perception attributes describe subjective criteria.


B
BROKER

A customer who acts as an agent for the end-user and/or the producer. As an agent for the end-user, the broker makes the product more accessible, easier to use and more appealing. As an agent for the producer, the broker “encourages” the user to accept the product


C
C3

Pronounced as see three. Abbreviation for customer-centered culture, generally used as an adjective (ie, C3 Model; C3 technology)

CERTAINTY
This is a class of product or process attribute which includes accuracy, reliability, consistency, predictability and safety.

CULTURE
An organization’s culture reflects commonly shared language, beliefs, values, relationships and behaviors. Whether a culture is producer-centered or customer-centered depends on whose needs primarily direct the development, creation, and modification of products. The measures used to manage the organization reveal the culture’s priorities

CUSTOMER
Anyone who receives a product to:
• Use it to achieve a desired outcome (end-user)
• Transfer it to someone else (broker)
• Transform, repair, correct or modify it (fixer)

A customer’s role is always determined by a specific product. A customer’s role may change if the product changes. A customer can have more than one role simultaneously in relation to a single product.

CYCLE TIME
The total elapsed time or duration of a process, as experienced by customers. Includes value-added time, delays, inspections and rework, usually measured in days.

E
END-USER

The customer for whom the product is primarily intended. This customer will personally use the product to achieve a desired outcome. There are usually more of this type of customer than any other. This is the most important type of customer to satisfy.

EXPECTATIONS
Customer expectations are the basis for determining what “quality” means. Customers have expectations about the performance and perception attributes of the product as well as the outcomes to be achieved by using the product. Perception expectations are stated in the “voice of the customer” which may not be directly measurable. They have to be translated by the producer into precise design criteria which are directly measurable. Producers sometimes refer to these translations as requirements, specifications, needs or standards. None of these terms are as inclusive as expectations; they reflect the minimum to be achieved by the product and generally are focused on performance attributes.

Expectations are based on the customers’ past experience with products. Wants are desires focused on optimums (vs. minimums) and hopes (vs. past experience) regarding a product or outcome. An experience may be personal or vicarious.


F
FIXER

Any customer who will have to make repairs, corrections, modifications or adjustments to the product at any point in its life cycle for the benefit of the end-user.


I
IDK

An “I don’t know” (IDK) is a question perceived by the requestor to be answered inaccurately, incompletely or not at the time first asked. An IDK does not necessarily mean “I don’t know” was explicitly stated.

INNOVATION
Innovation refers to the process of making a desired outcome easier to achieve.

INSPECTOR
Someone who approves others’ work


L
LEADERSHIP

Leadership is intelligence, credibility, humanity, courage and discipline...
Sun Tzu, circa 300 B.C., The Art of War


M
MISSION

Statement of organizational purpose and scope.


N
NOMINAL MEASURE

Counts of things, organized by category
.

O
ORDINAL MEASURE

A measure reflecting rank, priority, sequence or rating.

OUTCOME
A result achieved or sought.

OUTPUT
This commonly used term often confuses results with deliverables. See PRODUCT


P
PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS
These are unambiguous, objective and directly measurable attributes of a product, process, or organization. Performance expectations address specific amounts of quantity, frequency, cost, elapsed time, weight, distance and so on.

PLAN
Any detailed scheme, program or method worked out in advance for the accomplishment of an objective or project.

POLICY
A statement of intent regarding the manner in which decisions will be made or practices and actions will occur. (Examples: Honesty is the best policy; Our policy is to provide equal employment and promotion opportunity without regard to race, creed, national origin, gender or age.)

POWER
The ability to direct or change the product design.

PRECISION (of process)
Degree of variation from a promised/expected delivery or completion time.

PROCESS
The (1) sequence of activities or (2) flow of products which creates some final product. Many processes usually contribute to the creation of a single final product.

PROCESS OWNER
Primary person responsible for the performance of the process, the internal resources used in the process and the satisfaction of the customers who use the product produced. See PRODUCER

PRODUCER
This is the person or group which creates a product for a customer.

PRODUCT
Something created by work which can be given to someone else to achieve a desired outcome. It is a deliverable, a noun, packaged in countable units and expressed as something which can be made plural with an "s".

PROVIDER
This term is synonymous with supplier but is most commonly used in healthcare. See BROKER, PRODUCER, SUPPLIER


Q
QUALITY

Excellence as defined by current industry (producer) standards and technology. Quality is a necessary but insufficient basis for leadership. See SATISFACTION


R
REFERENCE PRODUCTS

A reference product is used to guide the creation or production of another product. Examples are specifications, procedures and standards. Reference products are usually technical, detailed and provide little flexibility for interpretation and application.

RELATIONSHIP MEASURE
The simplest kind of relationship measure is a ratio. Others include measures of correlation, prediction or regression.

REQUIREMENTS
See EXPECTATIONS


S
SATISFACTION

The degree to which a product meets customer expectations; what they get is what they want. The feeling of contentedness which occurs when an expectation is matched by an experience.

Areas 1-4 in the 8 Dimension's model drive satisfaction.

SERVICE
See PRODUCT

SIX SIGMA
A statistical term. Its non-technical usage refers to 3.4 defects or errors per million products or process steps.

SOURCE PRODUCTS
Source products include strategies, plans and policies. They are produced by management to create a bridge between the organization’s mission (why we are in business) and processes (how we do work). Source products are the directing influence on major business processes. They define the purpose or intent of the process. Most source products are created exclusively for internal consumption.

SPECIFICATIONS
See EXPECTATIONS

STANDARD
Can refer to:

  • OUT IN FRONT (flag pole held by standard-bearer)
  • BEST (gold standard)
  • GOAL (highest standard)
  • TARGET (industry standard)
  • COMMON (standard practice)
  • AVERAGE (standard cost)
  • MINIMUM (minimum standard)

Given these alternatives it is unfortunate that standards are most commonly minimums, producer-defined (vs. customer-desired), rigid, slow to change and tied to objective (vs. subjective) performance measures.

STRATEGY
An overall plan for projecting the organization toward a goal or desired outcome.

SUBSTITUTE QUALITY CHARACTERISTIC (SQC)
An SQC consists of two parts: a unit of measure and a performance attribute of the product or process which is directly measurable. SQC’s translate customer expectations or the voice-of-the-customer (VOC) into design criteria for both products and processes.

SUPPLIER
A supplier is a person or group which gives a product to a customer. The traditional use of this term includes, but does not differentiate, the three roles suppliers can play as (1) producer of a product, (2) broker for a producer or (3) broker for an end-user for a product. This is why the C3 Model does not use this term. See PRODUCER, BROKER, C3


T
TACTIC

A tactic is a maneuver or technique for obtaining an objective specified by a strategy.


V
VALUE-ADDED TIME (VAT)

Time consumed or expended in performing work, usually measured in minutes. For many business processes, VAT accounts for .05% - 5% of the total process cycle time. See CYCLE TIME

VARIATION MEASURE
Measures such as range, standard deviation and variance. Six Sigma is an example of a variation measure used as a goal by some organizations. See SIX SIGMA

VISION
A desired future condition; an expected outcome.

VITAL LIE
A limiting assumption. It is used as justification (often unfounded or inappropriate) for current practices. An excuse for not changing. It can prevent pursuit of the possible. (See Q10 in the “Questions and Answers” section for the most common vital lies.) A term coined by Henrik Ibsen, playwright.

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER (VOC)
Expectations of the product, as stated by the customer. These expectations are often expressed in subjective terms which may not be directly measured as objective criteria.


W
WORDS TO AVOID

Customer Common synonyms include: client, stakeholder, partner, taxpayer, patient and guest. The confusion can be compounded by organizing customers according to location (internal or external). The term is often used without reference to a specific product. As a practical matter, a person can only be a customer in terms of a product. Replace customer with end user, broker, or fixer.

Output This is often confused with a deliverable (see product) or a result (see outcome).

Service It is virtually impossible for members of an organization to agree on what this means. Service is most frequently used as a verb to describe reactive activity (e.g. help, support, assist, fix). But it can also be used as a noun (e.g. legal services) or as an adjective (e.g. service center). What cannot be defined is difficult to manage, measure and improve.

Supplier This can refer to a person or group that gives a product to someone else. Replace supplier with broker or producer, depending on the relationship with a given product.


Y
YIELD

Percent correct on the first try. For more information, see pages 116-118 of the “Creating a Customer-Centered Culture” text.

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