Posts Tagged ‘Human Aspects’

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No day passes in anybody’s life without contemplating AT LEAST ONCE some user interface on a computer that confused you and wasted your time!

Studies have shown that the 80/20 rule applies to software also. You use only 20% of the features 80% of the time and as such those are the ONLY features you may need to see in a user interface for you!

What we absolutely need are Lean User Interfaces! If someone adds up all the time they waste every single day looking for something or scratching their head wondering about to get something done on their computer, it would add up to years over a lifetime!

The above video shows something that is a step towards that but we need more approaches that observe what you use in software on a daily basis and adaptively tailors the user interface just for you!

Software developers quite often think FEATURES while users are thinking HOW DO I DO SOMETHING!

The above YouTube video is one step closer to making user interfaces adapt to the end user. It zooms the screens based on how close the user is to the screen.

Email is probably the most time wasting computer software any of us use. If only they come up with better user interfaces for email so that we don’t go on wild goose chases on our own computer!

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works! – Steve Jobs


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Many a well-intentioned organizational change effort has been derailed by human beings!

Ask any of the large corporations that have spent millions and millions of dollars in ERP software the last two decades, only to find that the implementations were struggling to stabilize and work properly. All that money may just have been flushed down the toilet!

Checkout this story that documents well known ERP disasters at even companies like Hershey, Nike and HP that are supposed to be good places to work! – 10 Famous ERP Disasters, Dustups and Disappointments .

Many of them failed for many disparate reasons,  but one common thread among many of them would be failure to get buy-in from end users, and their inputs in trying to adopt the new way of doing things!

Therein, lies a very important lesson for many a Lean Improvement effort – Failure to get buy ins from end users!

When you change the way something has been done in the past, you are disturbing the steady state of many human beings involved in that process.

In ERP systems, the warehouse clerk may be used to doing things a certain way, and may be that’s all the skills they have to do, and care to do. Unless that person’s buy-in is obtained in the beginning or somebodyelse who will provide you that buy-in is brought in, the whole effort has a lot of potential pitfalls!

The warehouse clerk likes doing his work by filling out a paper form and is quite comfortable with it. Now you introduce a totally different way of doing things like fill out an online screen on a computer, they may not like the way it is done for whatever reason. It could simply be a case of “they didn’t ask me what I thought about this change”. They may be trying to sabotage the whole effort when no one is looking!

This is the Achilles Heel in not considering the Change Management, Human impact aspects of Lean Improvement upfront, before the analysis and redesign of the mechanical aspects of a process. If a certain person is likely to lose their job because of the improvement, it will be very difficult for that person to accept with happiness, how it is helping the company improve its bottom line. There is nothing in it for him, except bad consequences. On the other hand, if that person is convinced that they will be moving on to bigger and better things after the improvement is in place, they may be persuaded to enthusiastically engage in managing the change.

Lean Improvement is not just about cutting waste and doing things in a better way. It is also paying attention to ALL the factors BEFORE the effort is taken up so that the effort itself is successful.  What’s the point in undertaking an effort in cutting waste if that entire effort turns out to be a bigger waste of time, money and resources?

Failed ERP implementations are great instances for learning valuable lessons for planning and executing Lean Improvement efforts!

People are very open-minded about new things – as long as they’re exactly like the old ones – Charles F. Kettering

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Many a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that I see measured in the Outsourcing Providers’ context have to deal with Efficiency and Effectiveness metrics. You measure number of documents processes in an hour, or the Average Handle Time (AHT) of an inbound or outbound voice call. You measure Customer Satisfaction Indices (CSAT Scores) and in phone based collection processes, you may be measuring the actual amounts of money collected per agent per day.

When it comes to Process Improvement, it is often, these KPIs that are put in the forefront for improvement.

Human aspects of Process Measurement, Monitoring, Analysis and Improvement are hardly ever touched upon even though they may precisely be the measures that could help you run a stable, consistent, and improving organization.

Just like the man who lost a coin somewhere and was searching under the lamp, because “That’s where the light was”, many of these measurement and improvement efforts may be missing a huge chunk of factors that can truly improve business processes. These are more human factors, tougher to formulate and measure, but may be the ones that will help you achieve excellence and an ever improving business process.

People who perform a process or a job may need constant improvement and augmenting of skills with skilled coaching, training courses, and in some cases, even better communication, and social skills when it comes to customer-facing business processes. Yet, these may be the ones that may address root causes of process failures and bottlenecks.

Mentoring and coaching of people by more experienced people is probably one of the best ways to improve the performance of entire teams at the same time. These merit measurement and analysis, just as much as any of the other process KPIs! Constant recruitment and training of people in case of high turnover business processes is another human factor that needs careful monitoring, analysis and management.

Human factors end up making all the difference between a well-run business process and a poorly run one. Yet they get ignored!

There is a great deal of human nature in man. – Charles Kingsley

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