Mark Lack has an unusual role that makes him act almost as an ombudsman at Mueller, a steel and metal building provider to the southwestern U.S. His office and duties are tied somewhere between the CEO and CFO, and he consults with experts and managers down to the factory lines.

It was those consultations – and the mix of unwanted reports and unmeasured metrics surrounding them – that led Lack to undertake a “big bang approach” to customer care with a revamp of its business processes.

“People do the same thing over and over. And when you propose a change to them, they don’t always like it, even if it makes things better. Our people have the most value when they can manage processes for our customers. And if I haven’t set up a structure so that they can find the information they’re looking for in two minutes, then I haven’t done my job,” says Lack. “We want to put our effort where we add value.”

During a lengthy ERP upgrade, business reporting slowed to a trickle across Mueller, but the pause helped Mueller to gauge and align the business data with the most value to balanced scorecard performance management approach. Now, Mueller delivers scheduled reporting for factory output and supplies, new sources of sales, and executive-level analytics that get to the core of the central Texas-based structure seller’s mission.

“Every time we sit down and review strategy or have a corporate meeting, the first thing we do is go through that information from a high level, so we can see our successes and failures. That becomes the foundation of what we start talking about,” Lack says.

Quotable: “In terms of data, the future challenges are going to be external. We’re good at internal data, but it’s the external stuff, much of it unstructured, that is our biggest challenge, integrating both worlds to get the whole picture.”

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