Saturday, 25 April 2015

Tube-Snake Boogie

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It's fascinating talking to users sometimes around processes they are meant to follow, but don't, because they perceive that they don't have the available admin' resource to follow/populate a system the way it was designed. Generally that's how managers have guided the design of it too.

Here's an example for you, that might strike a chord about things that happen in your organisation. Policy dictates that all work must be ordered up-front when required. That might be a purchase order in the finance system or in housing client repairs. It should be there when the contractor finally invoices, so there is something to auto-match up that document to. I guess auditors out there all go crazy for that stuff too, and quite rightly. Doing it that way stops fraud, or at least makes it many degrees harder. Most clients I work for demand I email PDF invoices to a portal and they always quote a PO reference, date, contact etc, that authorises the work I do.

Recently in one organisation, a certain team have decided that they will not issue works orders and instead its far simpler for a third party contractor to contact another contractor, with an address (might even include a postcode if you are lucky), to initiate a few hundred pounds work. Eventually an invoice appears with no PO reference. Guess what, those efficient finance team members spend some time checking, adding the invoice to suspense, then they put the document on hold.

That certain team then get tasked to query it. It gets looked in to and once they realise what's happened, they raise the works order (they should have in the first place). That certain team can then tell finance to have another go, they have another go and it gets passed. This can introduce a few days or weeks into the mix, even longer if the monthly BACS pre-list deadline is missed. The honest supplier who carried out the work sees the effect in their cashflow.

Now, let's not even think about the fraud potential here. Just thinking about the extra waste created, it's obvious that much more admin' is involved here for 'that certain team' as well as finance, due to not following the lean process. 

Think of admin' required, as being the toothpaste in a tube. If you do most of the admin' early in the process, it's like pushing the toothpaste to the front of the tube and using it early. If you squeeze it to the rear, you end up using it later instead. If the later, extra effort (toothpaste) is used for all that query time. IE if you are not following a well thought out process properly, more admin' (or toothpaste) will be needed, not less.

Why not just manage users to do it in the right order, at the right time to expend minimum effort? If senior managers helped their staff get on board with this too, how much time would we save? In some organisations we might even save whole members of staff. Worth a thought eh? How do you squeeze the tube in your organisation?

Related Post: Are we really leveraging the benefits of workflow for efficient systems?


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ZZ Top - Tube Snake BoogieZZ Top - Tube Snake Boogie.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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