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An Unexplained Process Can Be Wasteful

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Operating a business through process-oriented work is what defines a successful company. And, despite the dozens of adjectives that go into describing any given process, the purpose should be well-defined and known to all stakeholders involved.

Every time AccelaWork analyst Ashley Lee walks into the gym with her two children, two processes occur. First, the receptionist at the front desk scans her card. Second, she is handed a long, red tag entitled “Kids Zone.” Having never been told what to do with the tag, Ashley simply accepts it, heads to the children’s daycare and leaves it on the counter top.

Curious as to why the daycare attendants never ask for the red tag, Ashley questioned its existence this week.

Ashley: Excuse me, may I ask what this red tag is for?

Daycare Attendant: You know, I actually have no idea.

Ashley: Really? It doesn’t serve a purpose?

Daycare Attendant: Well, I figure its to show us that you have a family membership at the gym. Really though, none of us were told what its actually for.

confused cosultant

© Flickr user CollegeDegrees360

Since little was known about it, Ashley proceeded to the front desk to ask the receptionist. Upon her arrival, she found the manager there instead.

Ashley: May I ask why I’m given a red tag every time I enter the gym?

Manager: The red tag symbolizes that you have a family membership.

Ashley: So bringing the tag to the daycare proves to the attendants that we’re paying for the service?

Manager: Well, sort of. Really, its not up to the daycare attendants to determine that. The front desk attendant is supposed to check your profile on the computer after scanning your card. They give you the red tag to confirm that you are paying for the membership.

Ashley: But, if the receptionist knows I’m paying for the membership and the daycare attendants aren’t responsible for knowing, why the red tag? Isn’t it kind of useless?

Manager: Pretty much.

All in all, Ashley ended her investigation with one conclusion: The process of the red tag had zero significance.

If you think this situation sounds like a ridiculous one on the part of the gym, wait a minute before you start to judge. Take the time to look at your own organization. Many businesses have similar wasteful processes that are only still in place since no one has taken the time to ask one simple question: What’s the point? 

Perhaps it’s a sales report that really doesn’t provide any useful information. Maybe it’s requiring employees to be in the office even though telecommuting would be just as (if not more) efficient. It could be a chain of command that requires someone to get the go-ahead before moving forward with processes that should be entrusted to them by default. Or maybe it is something as literal as a red tag that does nothing but rack up cost and take up time without benefiting anyone.

Even if you don’t have one of these situations in your workplace, there’s a chance a well-intended process isn’t being as beneficial as it should be due to a communication error. It’s worth taking the time to ensure everyone in your organization is aware of the purpose behind the process.

Be wary of any process that leaves a false impression of purpose. If it’s left unquestioned or goes unexplained, all that’s created—besides confusion—is a sense of incompetence among stakeholders. Submitting to a transparent, misdirected process is more than just wasteful. Its frustrating. After all, doesn’t that useless process increase costs to the customer?

To learn how AccelaWork can help companies overcome processes that leave stakeholders running in circles, contact our business consultants today. We’ll do more than just provide a  fluid solution. We’ll assist in creating a purposeful and productive pathway for process success.

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