Watching staff type from a report into an excel spreadsheet should raise red flags for an organisation with an IT budget. When this sort of activity makes up half of an employees day the question should be asked, why can't our system do this? Much lip service is paid to efficiency. Spending half of your wage bill on the re-keying of data, whether it is from system to system or from a printed report to an excel spreadsheet, is simply not efficient. There is a better way.
Many "improvements" brought to the table can leave gaping holes in software processes. When a new system necessitates manual interventions so that one system can work with another something has gone wrong. When a design is proposed ask the following questions:
- How will this interface with our existing systems?
- What extra tasks will my staff have to perform?
- Do the data entry screens require the re-keying of data at any point?
- Will the time my staff have to spend on manual processes increase or decrease? By how much?
- Can you demonstrate how your calculation of return on investment is achieved?
- Is there a reference site who has this exact product in operation that I can speak to?
A correctly analyised workflow, can move an organisation to the point that many manual tasks can be automated. Once confidence in the workflow process is achieved then the move to automation becomes a possibility. When automation is achieved then staff can work on adding value instead of re-processing the same information again and again. A well designed workflow will:
- Move data from one state to another seemlessly
- Place work in the correct workstream for staff to action
- Provide intuitive user interfaces
- Track who, what, when and fhow data was changed
- Monitor time taken to achieve tasks
- Highlight workflow bottlenecks, which then can be managed
- Remove redundant data entry
- Provide visibility to management to assist decisions about organisational health
That makes sense.