Formative Assessment 1: SO1 EEK1 US 252034

Case study:


Cominman Company

  1. Company Background

The Communications & Information Management (Cominman) Company has been in business for 20 years, providing, on a national scale, communications and information management services. The company’s warehouse, part of the Property Management Division, provides storage and excess services for company property in the custody of 25 divisions. The warehouse department has a staff of ten personnel: a warehouse supervisor, four property specialists, one property clerk, three drivers, and one data entry clerk. The warehouse makes approximately 50 pickups per week at company locations that include remote areas.


  1. Process Description

To request services from the warehouse, a division customer telephones the warehouse property clerk requesting a pick-up of property for storage or excess. The customer provides the clerk with the property identification number or serial number for each piece of property to be picked up and brought to the warehouse. There are typically one to twenty pieces of property per pick-up. If a pick-up date is not requested by the customer, a date will be provided to the customer by the property clerk. The property clerk completes a property transfer form, which reflects the date of the call, customer’s name, division, location, property identification number and date scheduled for pick-up. A goal of the warehouse is not to exceed three days from the date of the call to the time of the pick-up, unless a special date has been requested by the customer. The warehouse receives approximately ten calls per week for pick-ups on special dates. On the scheduled pick-up day, the assigned driver takes the transfer form to the designated location. The driver is responsible for ensuring each piece of property matches the property identification numbers or serial numbers listed on the transfer form. After the truck is loaded, the driver obtains the customer’s signature on the transfer form. The driver also signs the form and provides the customer with a copy acknowledging receipt.

The driver returns to the warehouse, where a property specialist annotates the date on the transfer form, unloads the truck, and provides the data entry clerk with the signed copies of the form. The data entry clerk enters the information from the transfer form into the automated accountable property system and the transfer forms are then filed. The data entered are intended to transfer accountability from the division customer to the warehouse.

At the end of the month, division customers receive a computer-generated property list indicating the accountable property in their location for which they are responsible. The customer reviews this report for accuracy. If the customer records do not agree with this listing, the customer calls the warehouse supervisor who logs the complaint with the following information: date of the call, division name, property location, date of the property list, and discrepancies. The supervisor assigns a property specialist to resolve these discrepancies.


  1. Issue

The warehouse supervisor had recently attended a Quality Leadership Seminar during which time a workshop was conducted on Performance Measurements. During a review of the telephone complaint logbook, a supervisor realised that customer complaints were beginning to increase. The supervisor felt that developing Performance Measurements for the warehouse process would be beneficial. Why?










The Quality Leadership Seminar stressed the value of a team-based approach when solving problems or establishing performance measures. The supervisor, therefore, decided to involve her entire staff in developing performance measurements for their process. The supervisor was the team leader; a trained facilitator was requested to assist them; and the team elected the property clerk as the secretary. They were ready to start.


(The group is responsible for many processes, such as delivering property, conducting inventory, etc. For purposes of simplicity, this case study only addresses the process of picking up property or storage).


Step 1: Identify Process

The supervisor thought, “Where do we begin? What is the very first thing we have to do?”

Well first, she thought, we need to define our current process so all my team members can share a common understanding of what we do. The tools? Brainstorming and Flow Diagramming.

Brainstorming is a group technique for generating new, useful ideas. It uses a few simple rules for discussion that increase the chances for originality and innovation.

Flow diagramming is a method of graphically describing the activities and sequence that we perform to produce some output in a process. Before you try to control a process, you must understand it. Flow diagramming is basic to understanding our work and the way we function as a whole.

So the supervisor gathered the department together, and they began to document all the steps in their work process. Post-it sheets were all over the wall! What started their work? A telephone call from a customer. What ended their process? An accurate property list.

They wrote down all the related activities between these two boundaries (input/output) in the order in which they occurred. The department realised that the flow diagramming session was certainly a time of “discovery.” Contrary to what they thought, they did not proceed quickly and they did not proceed methodically through their process from beginning to end, capturing every detail the first time through. A lot of discussion took place. Finally, the department reviewed the completed diagram to see if they had missed any activities or decision points and verified the accuracy of the flow diagram. Is this the actual process? Yes, they all agreed.

A lot of time was spent on this effort. However, the supervisor was very pleased. “We have an invaluable tool; a map of our process,” she stated