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A Routine Process Gone Bad

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Business processes are supposed to be fairly smooth, especially when they happen all the time. But in this case, an everyday situation had a completely broken business process which upset a family and wasted considerable time and resources.

The story comes from Eric Marasco, a local promotional products expert. You may recognize Eric from past videos here at AccelaWork. Today, he’s here to talk about a process by which his own family decided to try to adopt a dog. Our own Robby Slaughter leads the short, two-minute video interview (direct link here):

The experience for Eric and his family was quite frustrating. They went through all of the paperwork as well as the interview. They also asked their friends and their veterinarian to spend some time as well on this project. In the end, they were disqualified because of something which appeared on their paper application—at the very start of the entire process!

The technical term for this business process element is a short-circuit evaluation. Instead of running through the entire procedure (the “whole circuit”), the business process can be drastically simplified by checking for a short path. Another way to describe this workflow issue is to use the phrase early exit. In any complex, multi-stage business process, we always want to know if there are any early exits to avoid waste and frustration.


© Flickr user Laura Bittner

It’s not difficult to find similar business process implementation issues where a simple disqualification could prevent hours of wasted time. Furthermore, our business process improvement consultants know that this is a workflow problem made worse by a lack of business process transparency. Had the rescue organization explained their policy on “invisible fences” up front, the Marasco family would probably not sent in an application.

Had the problem been one that wasted much more time for the adoption agency, they likely would’ve been much more cognizant of the way their failure to communicate would be frustrating. As is, the only one who was frustrated was Eric. That may not be a big deal for the rescue organization, but if the same sort of thing is happening in your business, then you may be turning off future customers or clients. And you may be doing that without even knowing it.

It should be the business’ job to make things easy for the consumer, not the other way around. This is addressed on the Small Town Marketing blog. The author lists communication as one of the most frequent reasons why businesses lose their customers. Eric’s problem came down to a lack of clear communication, and there are plenty of other situations we’ve all encountered where the same issue is at play.

A local business here lost a customer simply by telling the customer how difficult it was to produce their job on time. That’s not the customers problem… that’s your problem and any discussion about how difficult it is should be kept in-house.

Learn from the difficulty and try to find ways to be more efficient next time.

Would this customer feel comfortable bringing the same job back to this company knowing the grief they will receive? I don’t think so and I can hardly blame them for leaving.

If you make the decision to take the job that should be the end of the story. If you don’t feel you can do the job on time then that’s another story.

If everyday procedures like this one have significant yet simple design flaws that impact productivity, how many issues might exist within your organization? Don’t let a similar problem happen to your stakeholders. Reach out to our Indiana productivity firm today!

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