Business Process Efficiency Might not be a Complete Remedy

Process Automation does not mean efficiency

I was reading an article in Florida Trend recently by Mark R Howard entitled Sometimes, efficiency is Overated! The article explained how when the author was in college, one of his Professors gave a lesson in efficiency that he had never forgotten.

The class was split into 4 groups, and 3 of them were set a task of devising a process to mail out a letter and prospectus for the college. They were given a set amount of time to define the process and they all came up with various plans of how best to do this.

The next phase was the execution of their plan. The groups all finished within minutes of each other as all their plans had been based on speed.

The fourth group were then brought in to evaluate the plans and the execution. They were told to imagine that they were prospective students receiving the information being mailed out.

What all the groups had failed to do was check the literature that was being sent for any errors or check the presentation of how it was being sent to the prospective students.

The lesson from this story.

The fast process did not give a good result.  In fact, the speed with which the process was accomplished meant that quality was terrible. The lesson from this story was that it was all very well to be efficient in getting the information mailed out, however it is also important to remember that there is a human element and that this should be considered before putting a system in place.

Working with customers and Business Process.

Working with customers and their business process pain points on a daily basis, I realized that an important part of our role in automating any process is to not lose the human element. Computers, tablets, and even smart phones are an integral part of our life and if we choose, we never have to communicate with another human without the middleware of a device.

But - and here is the huge but - what do we lose?

Customer Service.

Customer Service is important to all business. And thinking about this article, I realized that if a process is too rigid and you have to go through the steps in a set way, then customer service could get lost along the way.

I know from a recent personal experience trying to book flights online, using reward points was a frustrating process until I was able to speak to an extremely helpful customer representative who managed to bypass the rigid set of online rules.

So in conclusion.

I know now that when I am working with clients to define their process, I will make sure that I ask the questions to ensure that the process does not lose all the human element and end up being inefficient and inhuman.

A great lesson.


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