Another tool, which I find useful to clearly identify customers / suppliers and their requirements, is SIPOC. The model looks at who supplies information etc into your department and what their requirements are; and who you supply information etc to and what their requirements are. (For a fuller description of SIPOC, visit www.nicholsonconsultancy.com/resources.htm).
If you can also get the departments who are upstream and downstream of your operation in the room while looking at the model, it’s amazing the improvements that can come about.
Simply asking the question, “What are your requirements of our department” can produce amazing results. I’ve worked in a number of companies where Dept A has religiously kept data and stored it neatly in a file in the assumption that it’s essential information for Dept B … who didn’t even know the file existed! Talking to the departments who you service and who service you can save companies time, and SIPOC is an excellent tool to facilitate the conversations.