In this guest blog Peter Rogers of Mango Software is discussing how systems can become burdensome and bureaucratic, which could result in inefficient systems.
Whether your systems are made up of: documented processes, procedures, policies, process maps, flowcharts, swim-lane charts, text documents, forms or templates, it’s all information as far as the standards are concerned.
However, these can become burdensome and bureaucratic. So often companies find they created themselves a Quantity System not a Business System. Compliance people seem to just love to sit at their computers and add more and more documents using products like Word or Excel. It makes them look busy. It's very important to them that only the prettiest, most good-looking documents are displayed. In their eyes, if they look busy, the boss will see that they are productive.
The more documents I create at my computer means I look busy.
However, this is not being productive. This is being bureaucratic. Stop. Creating. More. And. More. Documents. And. Start. Being. Smart. Not only that but Compliance people find it hard to remove documents from their systems. So how do remove this documentation burden (or waste)? Read on.
Why Don't Organisations Just Remove this Bureaucracy? Here are some common reasons we see are:
Too frightened to remove information
During an update to a process they forget to remove obsolete content or data, and just add more to the procedure
Someone thought it was a good idea to add a couple of extra lines to "cover their arse"
Taking suggestions from auditors without understanding the effect on the whole system
Not trained on how a system should be managed and how adding more and more burden will affect the whole system
How Do You Use Data to Remove Waste (and only leave value)? There are just two hard questions you have to ask yourself:
Is the information relevant and will people consume and understand it? If you want people to take your information seriously you need to make your information valuable and have a purpose.
What is your target audience for your systems?
Let's start with the first question. 1. Is the Information Still Relevant? Think through this carefully asking yourself the following questions at the same time:
Why was it been created in the first place?
Does the information reflect the current way of doing the job?
How is it currently accessed by employees?
Do they have access to it when they require it?
Create yourself a table. Record the system information and assess against a criteria and categorize it. For example, it could look like this:
2. Know Your Audience First determine who your audience is. Is it top Management, middle Management or shop-floor employees. Next determine how do they learn.
What is the style of learning that works best?
What is their attention span?
Will verbal instruction work better than written instruction?
An example of this is that if your audience is a manual workforce, where English is not their first language, then written English in the form of procedures will not give them the systems knowledge they need. The value, and the purpose, of your systems will be lost. You will be just wasting your time. Next record the following:
What languages spoken in your organisation?
What is the 1st language of the workers?
What method of learning will be the best to transfer the knowledge?
Finally once you have completed these steps you can apply your finding to your information, you should be able to:
Quickly remove old and underused policies, procedures, processes etc.
Identify information that could be simplified
What information could be repurposed to give better employee involvement and engagement?
You will quickly find that this will reduce costs in maintaining obsolete or non-relevant information. Then you will find the true value of your management systems.