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!