Task Analysis Improvement

I was reading two interesting blogposts about process improvement lately.
One was about workflow improvement using task analysis and the other article was about improving employee productivity using task analysis in which they both discussed the advantages in improving processes.

Task analysis is a new concept in task management and business process management. It puts the an emphasis on analysis, drilling down into the employee’s tasks, finding the blockage and releasing the process bottleneck.

Institute of Task Analysis

A quick callout to anyone looking for a group in our industry to join.

The Institute of Task Analysis is an independent non-profit professional association for the growing field of task analysis.
Our goal is to create greater awareness of the Task Analysis profession and working towards recognition of the value of task analysis in an organization.

Their website is taskanalysis.org

Task Analysis – Finding the Bottleneck

Sometimes, the hardest task in solving process problems – is finding the bottleneck.
It may be in the way the tasks were planned, or the way the user does the task.
It may be in the time spent on the task, or the time spent redoing the task.
It may be in the instructions to the user, or the instructions to the next approver.
It may be in the employee’s workload, or the process workflow.

That’s where task analysis comes in to play. Analyzing employee’s tasks reveals process bottlenecks, task inefficiency, and under-performers.

Definition: Task analysis is a business methodology of analyzing employee tasks to improve the way core business processes are being run within a company, helping organizations to become more efficient.

Task analysis activities are grouped into five categories: time recording, prioritization, monitoring, analysis and optimization:

Time Recording is where the actual time for each of the activities is recorded.
Prioritization is where the strategic decisions are carried out.
Monitoring measures task-related performance using key performance indicators to monitor how the strategy is performing.
Analysis enables to detect discrepancies between the time plan execution and the a priori model, as well as to analyze bottlenecks.
Optimization is where strategic decisions and priorities are refined based on the the analysis.
Employee resource planning and task scheduling is revised and integrated across all employee activities.

Task analysis is a fundamental methodology in the assessment and reduction of human error.

Virgin Media – Process Fail #1

Like everyone, I’m forever having problems with my internet service.

You would think that in London, in the 21st century things would work properly. You would be wrong…
I’m sure the problems I am having would be the same if I would change my service provider.
That said, it still is frustrating…

Virgin Media has two customer support offices: One in Scotland (or North England), and one in India.
I’m not going to rant about the level of customer support, or make fun of the accents.

The issue is around the way they try to solve a problem. The process of dealing with an unsolvable bottleneck.
It seems that Virgin Media doesn’t have one approach to dealing with problems.

If you ring during the day, you get the Scottish team.
* If they can’t help you – the say so.

If you ring during the night, you get the Indian team.
* If they can’t help you – the will try to pass the blame on to someone else.

I know it is a cultural issue, and I know both teams are trying their best, but it seems that the Indian team are achieving opposite results.

I need to know if the problem cannot be solved. I’ll be angry, frustrated.. but at least I know there is nothing more that I can do.

Blatant truths solve process problems
The reason – It releases uncertainty, which is a major bottleneck in any process.
The solution – If you can’t solve the problem – state it out loud.

ProcessPolicy.com 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.

We caught a graffiti artist…

We caught a graffiti artist in the act…

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.com 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.com 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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