Whilst you can calculate the costs of documenting your processes, or even in the marketing effort to get them used and adopted by end users, sometimes it is tremendously hard to calculate the benefits – as my blog Harry Potter and the Leap of Faith suggested.
But just now and again, you get VERY STARK examples of the value. Now the value I am talking about comes from processes being 1) documented 2) kept up to date and 3) accessible so actually used.
A few months back HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) lost many millions of taxpayers bank details on some CDs. Security standards and outsourced service suppliers were blame. But the real cuplrit was a lack of documented processes. A relatively junior civil servant did not follow a straightforward process. Why? Probably because it didn’t exist. Or if it did it was so complex using a modelling tool notation that they wouldn’t or coudn’t understand it.
Another HMRC example is a small, 5 min piece of testing on their personal tax submission website cost the taxpayer over £6 million. In my blog Why process inefficiency is expensive, but it is more expensive than you realise I step through the true costs.
But this could happen to any one of us in our business. Every day junior staff perform routine activities, that if done incorrectly could have a huge financial impact.
- Configuration data isn’t backed up in a hosted data center and a server goes down and need replacing. With no config data a 20 min rebuild turns into a 5 hour outage.
- A life insurance policy is taken over the phone in a call center without one of the key policy items being validated. That could cost the company millions in liabilities.
- A press release is issued without the correct client authority sign-offs and the client referenced cancels a long term multi-million dollar contract due to breach of contract.
And the list goes on.
Now if we could automate every activity and remove all human actions we could reduce the risks. But that will NEVER happen. People are needed to run businesses. And as we automate the routine we leave more and more of the complex tasks to human and the risk of human error. So we need to give people guidance and support that is both up to date but also easily consumed on a device that they use – web browser, Smartphone, or iPad.
That guidance means process and I don’t mean BPMN diagrams. Nimbus Control, branded How2 is their online operations manual. It is used in all the Carphone Warehouse stores and it makes the store staff more effective. The staff say so. The increase in store revenues proves it. Staff are empowered to do their job. Confident that they are doing the right thing. Staff confidence breads more confidence and the results very quickly show through. And we have just released Nimbus Control on the iPhone and iPad. Here is a video of staff at the Richmond Carphone Warehouse store
So who is the next high profile process failure? A retailer. An oil company. A bank. A BPO provider?
The solution is to document processes in a way that gets them adopted and internalized by end users. That way they are maintained and kept up to date. And they are used to eliminate embarrasing mistakes.
So here is the PERFECT example
IBM took responsibility for a major IT system failure suffered by one of Singapore’s largest banks on July 5, saying an employee’s error caused the outage.
In a statement released Tuesday, IBM said problems started when software monitoring tools detected “instability” within DBS Bank’s storage system. While the storage system remained “fully functional,” IBM employees initiated a recovery process to fix the issue.
“Unfortunately, a failure to apply the correct procedure inadvertently caused the service outage,” IBM said, adding that no data was lost.
The outage knocked DBS’ IT systems offline for seven hours, leaving customers unable to withdraw money from automatic teller machines.
Another example of people-based process failure…
Dominic Rowsell: “Solved the luggage mystery. I was given someone else’s boarding pass. So, with a boarding pass for London to San Francisco (I was on Milan to London flight) in the name of McKelvy I went through security, club lounge, passport control, boarding gate and officious flight steward with none of them noticing – now that is what I call water tight security!”