“Then the client may phone up and change their mind, then we find out that the last one in stock is damaged so we have to change it again, then we might find that the truck driver is ill, then we might find that the consignment needs to be moved to another truck run, then the client might not be at home or rejects the delivery….”
All of this can be handled and contingencies put in place by a good system and this is fine. But why do the changes take place? What are the changes taking place, how often do they happen and which of them can be predicted and avoided or reduced?
If your system could start alerting you to the likelihood of changes being needed and if it could give you feedback on the numbers of points of failure and nature of failure would that be useful?
This process of improvement never stops and it is both necessary and beneficial. It also applies to all types of business and data management.
What data are you processing needlessly?
This chart represents just 4 figures 30%, 30%, 30% and 10% and can be produced in a variety of ways. The user can create the chart and enter the four figures. Or, if the system is a bit smarter, the data can be drawn down from a database where the live figures are being recorded.
So apart from the time spent creating the chart and getting the look right your staff could be spending a lot of time collecting the data to ensure that the slices are right. What if the system did this for you as well?
We recently produced a report where for each active design project the project managers wanted to know at what stage the procurement was for several different categories of product (lighting, furniture etc.) With over 10 projects running at any time this could have meant days of work and the whole thing could have been out of date before it had been assembled.
The system we created required automatically produced the reports and emails for each project were sent to the relevant project managers giving them an up to date report. Wherever they were on the planet.
It could be that simple.
You have a tried and tested process – but legislation changes, or office policy changes, or you just want to see if things could be done better. To do this you need a new step in your system. How quickly can you get it implemented, indeed, can you get it implemented without having to resort to an external system.
I often see companies that have had such a change and as a result they have multiple systems – some that do part A, C and D but, part B – the system could not do, so they do it in Excel – that wonderful catch all.
Except…. to get part B to work, data has to come out of the main system (cue endless checks and cross checks) then it has to go back in for parts C and D (more checks).
After a few years the system is no longer a system. It is a nightmarish collection of applications and Excel spreadsheets and usually there is one person (only one) who knows how it all works.
The right kind of custom solution could make the nightmares stop. Find a system developer to help.
It took me 3 minutes to produce this graphic using my Sharpies, 1 minute to scan it, 10 minutes to get it to be the right size for this post…. that is ok it is a one off. However I watch in horror as I see clients spending more time correcting data and formatting it for presentation than it took to assemble the data to start with. This would be acceptable if these were one off reports, they need time to digest and look right, but this is less acceptable if the document is produced regularly. Sometimes every hour or so. I am thinking of quotes and invoices being adjusted in Word and Excel. After the data entry and automated error checking – formatting could be a time waster that could be dropped. What would gaining a third of your time back save you? What would adding a further third by automated error checking do? If you watch your staff do this – or worse still are having to do it yourself – it may be time to get a system in place.