I’m told by my daughters that I am “the most impatient person in the world”. Now, allowing for some teenage hyperbole, I would admit to there being some truth in that!
I get frustrated easily when things don’t work.
As I get older, I find myself shouting at inanimate objects when they don’t cooperate. I have always hated inefficiency. If I’m busy, and there is a process that slows me down, it drives me nuts.
Now of course, all business need processes. There needs to be a way to manage and control complex tasks, making sure they are done safely and correctly.
However, there needs to be a balance. Between making sure complex task are completed accurately, while at the same time allowing those people running the process (or interacting with it), to get on with the job.
What I’ve found in business, and particularly in law firms is that processes, specifically accounting processes, are poorly designed and lead to confusion and frustration.
The problem is that process design is a skill. It takes time and experience. A deep understanding of the rules around which the process is built. You need a knowledge of “best practice” from which one draws inspiration. Very often processes are built in an ad hoc way, bodging them together with duct tape and string.
And it’s easy to understand why. Most business process are built over time, with small incremental changes implemented to “solve” today’s pressing problem, without a full review of the bigger picture, or an understanding of the impact that small change might have. Over time, the process become so complex, with so many exceptions and “work arounds” that it leads to inefficiency and frustration.
Processes are often created for the benefit of only one part of the business. A process designed around the accounts team which makes the fee earners like harder – or (more commonly I’m afraid), a process designed around the fee earners, which makes the cashiers life hell!
The ideal is that business processes are designed (or redesigned) from scratch, with a clear focus on what’s necessary, a full understanding of how the firm works, a desire to balance efficiently (not the same as equitably!) the admin burden on everybody who interacts with that process, and the will to drive the change program necessary to implement the new process.
It takes time, it’s difficult, and often infuriating. However, if it smooths out the process, leads to more efficient workflow and reduces delay and frustration – it’s worth it.
But best of all, it stops old blokes like me shouting at their computers!