Purchasing departments are sluggish and error-prone. Joseph Juran used the tools of quality to simplify, streamline and optimize Lend-Lease purchasing during WWII. You can too.
“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].
“I was wandering through my old collection of Quality Progress magazines. This one’s from 2004, it was about a hundred years of Juran. Now, he was born in Romania in 1904 and immigrated to the Minneapolis region at about 12 years of age. I was reading through this, and one of the things in here struck me: during the war, he used his statistical skills and engineering to improve purchasing, budgeting and paperwork gridlock for Lend-Lease.
“Now Lend-Lease was where we were sending things to England and the Soviet Union to enable them to continue to fight the war against the Nazis. This is a common theme in QI Macros: purchasing departments try and buy stuff from us, and I can tell you purchasing departments are endlessly screwed up and slow. We had one large company was trying to buy [around] 200 licenses and they wanted to do it in an emergency fashion. It took them two months to hunt their way through the purchasing department.
“The I.T departments are not much better because they’re trying to protect against all things possible, and they sent a 62-page questionnaire to say “Do you do all these things?” No, we don’t live in the cloud, we don’t live over here, we’re a little add-in for Microsoft Excel, we don’t talk to the rest of the world, we don’t do all these other things, right? So, like 99% of their questionnaire has absolutely no relevance to us, but they’re trying to cover all their bases and CYA.
“So I’d like you get this idea that purchasing departments could be a great place to go to work on things and see if we can’t make things a little smoother, right? Simplify, streamline, optimize purchasing so you can actually buy the stuff you need when you need it.
“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something.”