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Definition Internal Customer vs. Process Partner - Definition of

D

Don Winton

#1
I personally have issues with the general use of the term "internal customer", as I believe that this term is often abused.
While there may be cases where ‘internal customer’ may be abused, I would suggest these may in the minority. Perhaps I am wrong.

I do not agree with the (popular) interpretation of an "internal customer" being the next person in a production line or next department in the flow of production
While this may be true in a strict interpretation of the ‘standard’ but, I do believe that the concept of internal customers has its place. When an organization decides to start on the path of systems management, the idea of an internal customer must be considered. After all, if process A cannot hand off to process B acceptable product, that raises costs. I believe it was Deming who said “Every one in the organization has a customer. If he does not understand that, he does not understand his job.” Perhaps I am paraphrasing, but the gist is there.

I prefer to refer to these individuals or departments as "process partners" rather than "internal customers". The term "process partner" is much more accurate in their description and still promotes the central idea of working together toward a common goal.
I agree with this, in part. I am trying now to move my organization from a ‘quality management’ to a ‘systems management’ paradigm (BTW, Thanks Marc, good concept).

Regards,
Don
 

Marc

Captain Nice
Staff member
Admin
#2
Definition of a Customer

Subject: Re: Q: "Customer" Definition /White/Randall
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 12:57:13 -0600

> Subject: Q: "Customer" Definition /White
>
> Could someone provide me with a good definition of CUSTOMER under ISO 9000?
> In our ISO 9001 Quality System at our Government Installation, customer is
> defined as any outside entity that we develop a satellite, flight instrument
> etc. for under some type of MOA or other agreement. This includes our
> Agency's Headquarters organization. But would a Headquarters organization,
> Government or Industry, be a customer or a supplier under ISO since
> they provide the funding to do the work?

Tom,
If we look to ISO 8402:1994 we will find the following definition:
--------------------------
1.9
Customer
recipient of a product provided by the supplier

NOTES
1 In a contractual situation, the customer is called the "purchaser".
2 The customer may be, for example, the ultimate customer, user, beneficiary
or purchaser.
3 The customer can be either external or internal to the organization.

-------------------------

If we look under ISO/CD1 9000:1998 (planned to replace ISO 8402 in Nov. 2000) we find the following definition:
------------------------------

4.2.2.11
Customer
recipient of a product

EXAMPLES Examples of a customer are: ultimate consumer, end user,
beneficiary, purchaser

NOTE The customer can be internal or external to the organization.

------------------------------

I personally have issues with the general use of the term "internal customer", as I believe that this term is often abused. In my interpretation/opinion, an internal customer is a sister division or business unit who PURCHASES product/services (either directly or through book transfers).

I do not agree with the (popular) interpretation of an "internal customer" being the next person in a production line or next department in the flow of production (this appears to be contrary to the example given in ISO/CD1 9000:1998 and ISO 8402, note 2). I have found that companies can develop a tendency to focus on these "internal customers" more than their external (paying) customers.

I prefer to refer to these individuals or departments as "process partners" rather than "internal customers". The term "process partner" is much more accurate in their description and still promotes the central idea of working together toward a common goal.

I hope that this helps,

Richard
 
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