When inaccuracy occurs on the job, there are two common reactions of many managers. The first reaction is to question the employee to determine what happened, and the other is to try and correct the problem.  It’s common, and sometimes easy, to blame employees initially when there is an error with an assignment or task. Although in some cases a problem can be caused by user error, it’s important to review and consider the workflow process and whether it has contributed to the problem as well.

Just as job training is essential for employees to perform their roles, identifying whether the workflow process is effective and waste-free is equally important.

To identify a broken workflow process, look for any the following signs:

1.       Duplication of efforts: This occurs when multiple employees are working on the same tasks unknowingly or when one employee is completing multiple tasks the ultimately create the same results. It is important to identify actions that are duplicated as it can add unnecessary time and costs to complete the process. The time used to duplicate activities that yield the same results can be utilized more effectively in other areas, and perhaps to even ensure quality. This is also considered a form of waste and can negatively impact customer satisfaction.

2.       Confusion of job roles and responsibilities: When employees don’t have clear expectations of their job roles, it leaves them to assume responsibilities (and even neglect responsibilities) that cause issues among their team members and the overall process.

3.       Automated processes completed manually: It is important to invest in training and support for the software/technical platform that employees use the complete their jobs. Being well informed of how the system works, updates, etc., will help ensure that it used in the most effective capacity and is beneficial for the staff and organization.

4.       Inconsistency when completing tasks and assignments: If each employee uses different methods to complete the same assignments, this creates a process within a process. Take the time to get feedback from staff about their best practices, tips & tricks, etc. Determine which methods are beneficial to the workflow process as a whole and consider revising the process accordingly.

5.       Lack of a written and communicated process: If the process isn’t documented, it does not exist. A documented process serves as a guide to managers and employees. It should outline the desired results/output and is also a tool for continuous improvement efforts.

6.       Misuse or manipulation of workflow tasks: “Workarounds” and “back-end clean up” are signs of process manipulation or misuse.

7.       Repetitive activities: Identify activities and tasks that are done more than once (or by multiple people). Repetitive tasks are considered waste if it doesn’t add measurable value.

8.       Inaccurate and incomplete output: If the desired output of a workflow process is not visible when the process is complete, it is indeed broken and unsatisfactory for the organization, employees and of course, the customer.