UK Border Agency – Process Fail #1

Anyone that has visited the United Kingdom, has probably passed through the border process run by the UK Border Agency.

It requires filling out a “landing card” form with your personal details, flight and passport details.

An immigration officer will check your passport, ask a few questions and let you in (or not).
But due to understaffing, you find yourself waiting… and waiting… and waiting…
Their official target is to see you within 45 minutes.

Landing cards are often provided on the plane, and can be filled out prior to your arrival.
But in many cases, the airlines don’t provide boarding cards (or don’t have enough cards..)

That causes problems. Visitors know that the quicker they get from the plane to the queue – the faster they will get through.
So you often see people that rush into the border process area, pick up a form and quickly fill it out, in order to be at the front of the queue.
This badly planned process causes mistakes, bad writing, missed fields… etc.
(Remember that this is a legal form that they are filling out)

You can’t blame the visitors. They want to get through the queue as quickly as possible.
There are many solutions, from ensuring airlines provide boarding cards to the passengers, through to electronic screens to fill in the details.
It’s all about implementing the right data entry solution

Bottom Line:
Data entry needs to be done properly.
A badly planned data entry process causes mistakes, bad writing, missed fields. Things that can, and should be avoided

ProcessPolicy is an online business process solution for improving business performance and enforcing company policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers or anyone else.

Prime Minister’s Office – Process Fail #1

I’m having an issue with one of our government offices. Nothing serious, just annoying bureaucracy.

I decided to write a complaint.
I’ve never written to the prime minister, so I decided to give it a go.

No, it’s not an issue of national security, nor is it a life or death issue, but as the prime minister is in charge of the government offices, he should be accountable for his government office’s conduct.

Now to be honest, it’s more of a rant, a way of releasing a bit of steam out.
You’ve all been in a similar situation before. British bureaucracy at it’s best.

So I sent the letter to the prime minister at 10 Downing Street, London
and waited
and waited
and waited…

A month went by, but still no reply.
A complaint process that doesn’t start properly is the worst scenario.
If someone takes the time to write a complaint, you should at least acknowledge receiving it.

So I’ve written an follow up email to the prime minister office
I’ll keep you posted on its progress…

Bottom Line:
If a process fails at the first step – a loud siren should go off. Something is really wrong with the process implementation!
Processes that fail in further steps can always be resolved using escalations and alerts, but the first step is critical and must work perfectly.

ProcessPolicy is an online business process solution for improving business performance and enforcing company policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers or anyone else.

Arlanda Airport – Process Fail

Stockholm’s Arlanda airport is a cute airport. Small, quiet, wooden floors. A relaxing atmosphere.

Last week I passed though the airport, as a stop-over. I had a bit over an hour to dash from one flight to another.
The airport has invested millions in security equipment, x-ray machines and metal detectors.
Passengers that need to transfer to a connecting flight, are required to go through the transfer security lounge.

To lower maintenance costs, the security lounge is unmanned.
Instead, they have a small sign that says “Please press the bell, and one of our security staff will attend in a few minutes”

So I rang the bell and waited… and waited, and waited.

After 15 minutes of waiting (and a bit of panicking that I’d miss the connecting flight) I went downstairs, found a door that was left unlocked (probably the cleaners) and entered the departure lounge (thus bypassing the security checks)

I got to my flight on time, and the security staff didn’t even know about me.

It’s a good example to use in explaining process problems.
One of the issues with any process implementation is enforcement.

Think about daily employee tasks in an organization.
Workflow tasks can be automated to be sent to an employee. Reports can be generated. Alerts can be provided.
But nothing stops an employee from bypassing the system – if you leave a loophole.

Bottom Line:
Process design without enforcement design will open the system to abuse.
If you leave a loophole in the process – employees will find it.

ProcessPolicy is an online business process solution for improving business performance and enforcing company policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers or anyone else.

NHS – Process Fail #3

It’s not easy to distinguish a bad process from bad customer service.

Usually bad service is an indicator of a bad process.
Usually good service is an indicator of a well planned process.
But sometimes good service covers up a bad process.

I donated blood today.
Surprisingly it was a pleasant experience. Mainly because of the head nurse, Ann.
Ann, a chirpy nurse with 26 years experience was fantastic. Chatty, smiley, happy.
It made the whole experience a positive one.

But the good experience covered a faulty process.

I received a call a week ago from the NHS Blood donation team telling me that the donation date had been changed from Thursday to Monday.
“But I’m not booked for donating on Thursday” I said. “My appointment is on Monday”
The woman stuttered, and tried covering up her mistake by verifying that I’ll be coming in on Monday.

I had to smile…

I’ve already covered the problems with the NHS blood donation booking process, so I didn’t have high hopes when I went to donate blood today.

You enter the main hall, and are welcomed by one of the nurses.
You are given a booklet to read and kindly requested to wait.
.. and wait… and wait… and wait

45 minutes later they call your name.
You go through a list of questions with another nurse, given the OK, and then asked to take a seat at the back of the room and wait
.. and wait… and wait…

10 minutes later you are called to lie down on a bed.
You wait another 5 minutes and the nurse comes back and draws blood.

The whole process takes nearly 2 hours

It a common problem with the NHS. The medical staff are professional. The administration is a mess.

Bottom Line:
Badly managed time causes inefficacy. Inefficacy is the root of bad processes.
But sometimes good experience covers up a bad process.

ProcessPolicy is an online business process solution for improving business performance and enforcing company policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers or anyone else.

Time Manager

In the end, it’s all about time management.

U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

Time Management enables the effective management of employee’s time using accurate working time recording, monitoring and analysis.
Only through analysis of the data that you can begin to understand employee behavior, identify working trends and discover where work can be made for efficient.
Together these enable to accurately model and predict future employee behavior and lay a foundation for improving business performance.

ProcessPolicy’s Time Manager is an online time tracking and analysis solution.
Time manager improves employee efficiency and productivity and ensures compliance by accurate working time recording.

Time Manager

NHS – Process Fail #2

Statistics show that one in 10 health appointments were missed last year, costing the NHS millions of pounds and delaying treatment for other patients.

The Department of Health reported 5.5 million missed hospital appointments last year.
Although the figure is 250,000 less than the previous year, ministers are calling for hospitals to use more innovative solutions to tackle the number of people who miss appointments.

To solve the problem some hospitals use a text message system to remind patients of their appointments. Some use Skype.

Simon Burns, the Health Minister said:

“It is important that people realise that not turning up for their agreed appointments, means other patients’ care might be delayed and doctors’ and nurses’ time could be wasted, costing taxpayers money.Today we are highlighting the number of missed appointments so people can see the impact this is having on their NHS. Patients often have genuine reasons to miss an appointment, but it can have a big impact on the care we can offer to other patients. It is important that the public understand we have responsibilities too, like not wasting precious NHS resources. I’m glad to see that the NHS is increasingly using simple ideas such as texting their patients before an appointment or seeing them via Skype. These could have a dramatic impact and I want to see more hospitals making use of them.”

Skype is an example of how a problem can be tackled in a simple way.

Bottom Line – Technology can be used to solve bottlenecks.
Most bottlenecks are caused by the human factor. Using simple initiatives can help move the bottleneck along the process.

ProcessPolicy is an online business process solution for improving business performance and enforcing company policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers or anyone else.

Tesco – Process Fail #1

My local Tesco supermarket has a way to deal with queues:

As soon as one of the cashiers sees that the queue is getting long – they press an alarm bell.
The loud alarm sounds for a few seconds across the whole supermarket.
Other workers come running in to help reduce the queue.
And when the queue is under control again, they return to their normal work filling shelves.

On paper, the supermarket managers probably thought is was a great idea. It sound logical. This will make the customers happy!

Unfortunately, in real life it doesn’t work.
Try shopping in a supermarket where a loud alarm bell goes off every few minutes.
And when you get to the queue you find out that you are waiting in a queue of 15 people.

Yes.. the employees are really trying. Once they see a queue of 15 people – the alarm is pushed. Shelvers become cashiers, and the queue is shorted. But the frustration remains. Once a customers joins a slow queue of 15 people, it is too late to change that perception, even if the queue speeds up later on.

People have already formed a bad opinion about the service. They are already frustrated that the queue was so long, that an annoying alarm goes off every few minutes, and that cashiers are trying to rush them to shortern the queue.
This process creates a bad shopping experience. And that was not what the supermarket managers wanted. The way to hell is paved with good intentions…

Bottom Line – Multitasking tasks is inefficient.
The inefficiency of shelvers becoming cashiers, back to shelving, then running back to the cashier – is obvious. Multitasking tasks sound like a great idea, looks good on paper – but really succeeds in real life.

ProcessPolicy is an online business process solution for improving business performance and enforcing company policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers or anyone else.

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