In the late 1990s responsiveness has become a key differentiator for manufacturing companies aiming to better support their customers with more timely deliveries and more appropriately customised products. In addition, significant internal improvements in cost and stock reductions can be achieved through a more responsive operation. This paper firstly reports on a responsiveness auditing tool that has been developed and refined over the last four years and used within a range of industries. The audit provides a framework for examining the ability of a production operation to respond to current external and internal production disruptions or response needs. It has been developed to help manufacturing companies assess and improve their ability to respond to those influences on operational performance, which they cannot readily control. The paper begins with a set of clarifying definitions which position (production) responsiveness in line with established concepts in agility and flexibility. It then introduces the audit process as a means of allowing a production operation to systematically assess response capabilities and the impact of responding or not responding. It then demonstrates how the audit can be used as a means of directing response improvement actions. Case study examples are used as a means of illustrating the developments. Finally, the paper introduces current developments in which the audit is being extended to apply to the entire order fulfillment process
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