These words, Better, Faster, Cheaper, are heard often during many corporate sales efforts – “our product will help you do that Better, Faster and Cheaper.” Everyone especially likes to purchase software that makes a process, Better, Faster and Cheaper. The key to achieving that promised success is know what the process is – really know and understand it.
There are plenty of examples where very complex software solutions were created that replicated an existing paper or manual process. The problem was that the process wasn’t fully understood and not very efficient in the first place so you have an application that may not be Faster, Better or Cheaper. You need to change the way you think when designing a workflow.
Breaking down a process step by step and understanding the rationale for each step is important, but so is a high-level view. Getting the true understanding of what the process is, and needs to be, will be much easier to design and build as a digital workflow. Always ask the question “why is that task necessary?”. If the answer is that it has always been done that way, take a deeper look.
It is very helpful to document or flowchart the existing process to make sure that all steps are known. And it is critical to be very detailed about the descriptions of each step. Users get so familiar with a process that when describing it for the first time they leave out the details that are ingrained. What is it that always require special handling or takes you out of the normal process – identify those things.
Once all of the details are known, that is when you can really look at the process and determine if all of those steps are necessary. You will also be able to analyze each step to see what technology can do to improve a step. For instance, if a step required that some other system or data needs to be reviewed, see if that data can be integrated and available to the user within the same interface.
Don’t just have the people that are involved in the actual process participate in the design. Have others in the company who use or rely on the results also provide feedback on what they really need out of that process. They may have been dealing with the data as is and not realizing that it could be much better data.
At the end of the day, it is not possible to get the best results with incomplete or inaccurate information. To achieve Faster, Better, Cheaper you have to think Smaller, Deeper and Wider.