I have been listening to the podcasts on internal customer relationships and I am at a loss for who I define as my "customer". On the one hand I see manufacturing as a customer, yet my role as a quality manager is to act as the "devil's advocate" or regualtory authority which oftentimes prevents them from doing what they want to do...i.e, makes them very unhappy with our "service". Feedback from them would require that I NOT do my job, so who is my internal customer?

Any thoughts on this?

arc1's picture

Seems to me that's a really common problem for a lot of internal depts that don't produce direct profit - eg. compliance, legal, audit etc. I think manufacturing are still definitely your customer.

Ask yourself how long manufacturing would continue to be successful if nobody checked what they were doing. You'd end up with more product going out faster, but it might be made with flaws or be completely unsafe.

Generally I think senior people in that area would understand the issue and support your role, but they might have more junior people who only see you as an obstacle... hence you get the feeling your service isn't appreciated day to day.

Usually that shows a need for more training of the junior people, and also that your main goal as a service provider is then to work out how you can work with the manufacturing guys better, without compromising your standards.

Oh and... the company itself needs to succeed long term. If you have shareholders and you don't stop people from doing dodgy things, then the shareholders won't thank you in the long term!

aspiringceo's picture

[quote="susanlny"] so who is my internal customer? Any thoughts on this? [/quote]

Hi Susan,
Firstly, I have no experience in the world of Pharmaceuticals, so I cannot specifically say who your internal customers are.

But to help you in deciding who they are a definition of internal customers could be "any member of staff or departments in your organisation who require your and your teams help and assistance in order that they may serve external customers"
Hope this helps.


Mark's picture
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My apologies for my delay.

Why do you need an internal customer? Depending upon how you define it, anyone COULD be, and that of course defeats the purpose (in one way*) of the analysis.

I would argue that your customer is THE external customer - those who use your products.

* - And in another way, what's wrong with treating everyone internally as a customer? First, it means you're deferential, and interested in helping them succeed. Secondly, it avoids you treating anyone as if YOU were THEIR customer (which, while it may be true in certain processes, one might do well not to act as if it's so if that leads to less than professional cordiality.)

Again, I regret my absence.