Octopus Diagram for Customer Focus

In an earlier article, we described the Turtle Diagram for capturing information about a process. With the turtle’s head and tail representing the inputs and outputs, and its legs addressing the methods, resources (what and who), and measures, the diagram reminds us of the key factors to consider when defining or auditing a process.

Regardless of the tools used, an organization should ensure a process owner exists and that the process is defined, documented (if necessary), and monitored. In addition, the process linkages must be established and process records maintained.

Of all the processes within a quality management system, the customer oriented ones, with direct customer interfaces, are perhaps the most important. To satisfy our customers at these contact points will require the behind-the-scenes processes to be achieving their quality objectives.

The linkage of customer oriented processes to the rest of the system can be viewed as forming an octopus diagram. Each tentacle represents inputs from the customer to the organization and the resultant direct outputs from the organization to the customer.

Although an octopus has eight tentacles, the octopus diagram should represent the actual customer oriented processes, whether fewer or more in number. For examples of customer oriented processes, see the list below:

  • Market Analysis
  • Proposals/Bids
  • Order Entry
  • Product Design
  • Product Validation
  • Shipping/Delivery
  • Invoicing/Payment
  • Warranty/Service
  • Customer Feedback

By giving special attention to our customer oriented processes, we are taking steps to ensure we meet customer requirements, and as a result, hopefully satisfy our customers.