5 Rules for effective EMS provider quarterly business reviews (QBR)

By Steve Linahan

Most EMS executives understand basic principles of quarterly business reviews (QBR) and, that the QBR is a tool to help manage the OEM’s EMS interests; manage supply agreement gray areas, drive continuous improvement and encourage senior-level participation so that old information is refreshed. Meanwhile, the purpose, and benefits, of your QBR extend much further than the above.

How you structure the process for your QBR will help both you and your EMS provider as it clarifies all deliverables, explains your requirements and standards clearly, as well as it deals in most recent or current facts and not just the emotion of the moment or the problems du jour.


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Developing a QBR scorecard template
The use of a QBR scorecard can sometimes have more implications than you may be aware of. Some EMS providers (and OEMs) tie managerial bonuses to the QBR as a measure of customer satisfaction (which can defeat a big portion of its purpose). Be careful not to do this as customer satisfaction should not be confused with a quarterly business review. Doing so stifles the open exchange of information and sharing of all the data. (See, also: Search EMS Resources Directory)

The [quarterly] business review is suggested as being quarterly because annual is too long to wait since the last review, plus quarterly aligns with business cycles in most organizations.

Metric driven
Develop quantitative, measurable criteria not qualitative emotional responses

Major areas
Suggest your QBRs cover the major tenants of cost; quality, delivery, service and maybe one more like technical support or, that, plus new product introductions (NPI).

Your target audience is senior-level at both companies, with valid supporting detail.

Track the trends
You should be able to see metrics improving quarter-on-quarter while also being able to determine whether (or not) what was committed the previous quarter was accomplished the following quarter.

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Rules for effective EMS quarterly business review meetings
1. No surprises. A QBR should be discussed and reviewed in advance of the meeting. A senior level meeting is no place for blind-siding others or grandstanding.

2. Exchange slides and consolidate with the total slide deck distributed ahead of the presentation.

3. Focus on gaps against criteria being measured, not conformances – doing this helps make sure you are focusing on continuous improvement opportunities, and actions. (Allow for gap responses to metric shortcomings)

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