Quality Management 2.0 Blog

What is the Key to A Successful Electronic Workflow?

Posted by Tisha Tomlinson on Oct 19, 2012 @ 11:00 PM

When developing a new business electronic workflow in a quality management system, always think ahead to what happens to all the data collection.  Thinking ahead to determine what metrics will be needed out of the process will ensure a successful implementation of the new process.  Any vital business process should be measured for continuous improvement. Therefore, metrics should be a top consideration when developing an electronic process.  Too often, much financial and human resources go into the development of an electronic workflow tool only to find out that the necessary metrics can’t be captured because thought wasn’t put into how the data should be stored.  When I assist clients with defining a new electronic business process, the first question I always ask is:  What type of metrics do you need out of this process?  That will inevitably lead to a discussion that might not have been addressed before.  It also opens up discussion about what metrics they have never been able to track before and is an opportune time to introduce them.
 
Scenario:  When creating an electronic Customer Complaint tracking system, vital pieces of information should be captured such as:  Customer Name, Date of Complaint, Reason for Complaint, Resolution Date, etc.  If these fields are simply data entry fields, all metrics are lost.  If users simply type in a customer name each time a complaint is received, there will be nothing to force consistency.  Therefore, when a pareto chart is assembled by customer name, nothing of any value will render.  It is necessary to give users some type of selection list of customers.  This will then provide consistent trends to determine which customers have the most complaints.  The same would apply for date fields.  If cycle time is a key metric, the  system should capture that information in a date value field.  The same theory applies to a categorization of Reason for Complaint.  Providing users a selection list for the primary “buckets” of reason types will give a fuller picture to the types of complaints being received.  Other field considerations should be:  integer fields, currency fields, numeric fields, etc.  Generally text fields are of no value in metrics, but will provide detail if a “drill-down” is needed.  Analyze each field type carefully to ensure data structures are compatible with expected results.
 
It seems reasonable to create the fields types indicated above, but often the workflow focuses on aesthetics and ease of use more so than the correct data structure.  All of these items are important to consider, but ultimately, metrics should win out without compromising the workflow acceptance by the user community.
 
So, when introducing a new electronic workflow, remember:  the key to success in the future is thoughtful planning in the present!

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Topics: Quality Management Systems, Electronic Document Management, Customer Management Software, Compliance Software, Workflow Management Software, Complaint Management, Electronic Workflow

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