We discovered that 2 people working in tandem can ship an order every 12 seconds using the new system. So the actual labor costs are down to 24 seconds per order, in a process which requires literacy and two hands but little else. That gives us a throughput of 2400 orders per day before we have to build a parallel workstation… should last a while.
In an article called In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome, written in 2001, I said, “[I]f you’ve ever had to outsource a critical business function, you realize that outsourcing is hell. Without direct control over customer service, you’re going to get nightmarishly bad customer service — the kind people write about in their weblogs when they tried to get someone, anyone, from some phone company to do even the most basic thing. If you outsource fulfillment, and your fulfillment partner has a different idea about what constitutes prompt delivery, your customers are not going to be happy, and there’s nothing you can do about it, because it took 3 months to find a fulfillment partner in the first place, and in fact, you won’t even know that your customers are unhappy, because they can’t talk to you, because you’ve set up an outsourced customer service center with the explicit aim of not listening to your own customers.”