A friend recently trusted me he had a new regional manager to report to. His company is a national distributor of industrial supplies sold primarily to manufacturing companies. He didn’t know much about his new boss and suddenly he wanted to keep an eye on all the sales activity in all the offices in the Southeast, many of which are. To do this, he asked the sales force to e-mail all of his daily customer contact lists and sales transactions for the day directly. In other words, the regional manager was interfering with and performing the analysis typically performed by local sales managers. The Regional Manager took it a step further and started contacting the Sales Force directly instead of going through the Sales Managers. Translation: The Regional Manager had started a micro-management program against the permission of local sales managers.
It made me think about how the regional manager is doing about his job and the system that helps him. In defining information requirements for a company, you need to consider the steps and decisions to be supported, which can be categorized by the PCO, which means policy-control-operational. Within any enterprise, three basic levels of business functions can be supported:
* Policy information. Used by executive management to move a business forward and includes things like operating summaries, forecasts and trend analysis.
* Control Information – Used by intermediaries to control operations and report to executives. This usually includes status reports, departmental summaries, quota analysis and scheduling.
* Operational Information – Used to support thousands of day-to-day business activities, such as ordering and processing, checking order status and other customer support activities.
Information must also depend on time to perform various business functions in a timely manner. Not surprisingly, a business needs a faster response at the operational level than at the higher level. To explain:
* Operational information is usually required “on demand” (alias, “on request”) or daily. It finally represents the primary transaction of the business to collect data. Daily information is also useful for creating things like daily closing summaries and creating daily schedules.
* Control information usually consists of daily, weekly, and monthly summaries so that the intermediate administration can monitor operations. Random “on-demand” questions can be asked from time to time, but are not usually part of the middle management routine.
* Policy information typically includes weekly summaries and estimates required for weekly, monthly, quarterly, and long-distance planning. Again, random “on-demand” questions can be created from time to time, but are not usually part of the executive management routine.
If a manager is spending a lot of time processing “demand”, as my friend’s new boss seems to be doing, it means a couple of things: First, the manager is likely to be fine. Is not assigning responsibility in any way and it has decided their area of the company on the path of micro-management. Second, it means that the company’s information systems may not be properly presented to the business, or that the new regional manager does not know how to use them easily and, instead, uses his system to obtain information. Trying to restore the wheel by designing. If the latter is the case, he may be having trouble working with the company’s systems department, thus introducing redundant processes and data that could lead to conflicting results (aka, “dirty data”). In the case of my friend, I suspect that the regional manager is to blame for all of the above.
There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to get the right information to support your business activities, but if this leads to employee motivation or misinformation, you should be surprised that Is the wrong person running the show?
Managers must find some soul. Do they really need this information or are they interfering in the responsibilities of others? My advice to managers is very simple: take responsibility, hold people accountable, and get out of their way. “Manage more, monitor less” – Bryce’s law