Marketing is the customer?



Our company designs and manufactures computers and software. Although we do some semi-custom work for customers, most of our standard advertised products are designed from a "concept" developed by the head of our company (who is also an engineer). His concepts come from some general industry research, but mostly "gut feelings" about what the customer needs. It has proven successful to date.

Two questions here: 1) How do we identify the customer's requirements for these standard products? We do develop a marketing specification for each product with performance and reliability requirements. I am being told that "Marketing" is the customer in this case and that it should be designed and manufactured to meet Marketing's requirements.

2) Will this fly with ISO? Shouldn't we be defining and documenting the end user's needs? What is the consequence (with respect to the new standard) of not having a solid market-research program in place? How do you document "gut feelings?"

Katy (smack dab in the middle of ISO transition).

M Greenaway


Dont worry too much. Marketing is a bit of a black art that ISO9001 doesnt really go anywhere near.

The bit about establishing customer requirements is quite simple if you have a standard product, as in effect you are telling the customer what you have and they are saying if they want it or not. Its a bit like ordering from a catalogue, if the customer quotes your part number or model then that is all you need to determine with regard to the product.

New product developement should perhaps consider the markets needs, however this does not have to be a formal system. Under audit your top guy might be asked how he establishes his 'gut feeling' of the market, it will probably transpire that he has a lot of contact with his customers, reads certain trade journals, visits trade exhibitions, etc. If he can actively demonstrate this then a formal market research campaign is unnecessary.

Just my thoughts.
What it really boils down to must be that you and the customer have agreed on the specifications. As you have one for each std product I don't expect that to be a problem.

As for the end users, I suppose their needs must be conveyed by marketing. If not, you'd be out of buissness, right?



Requirements for the product

Produce the product as the customer required is good thing to practice. As a producer you have to determine (7.2.1, ISO 9001:2000) a) requirements specified by customer, b) requirements that are specified or intended use, c) statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product, and d) any additional requirements determined by the organization.

As a marketer you have to, not only do as the market needs but also, create the want to the market.
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