Whether it is the Factory Floor, or a Customer Service or Support Center, helping customers with their orders or help regarding anything, the amount of time wasted looking for things is amazing! Any lean improvement project has to look at this waste and come up with ways to eliminate them. This can cut a big chunk out of the costs of operation.
On the factory floor, there are techniques like the 5S Methodology that will reorganize tools and other materials used on the factory floor so that no time is wasted looking for them. These can be organizing tools where we may need them, drawing shapes of the tools on the board where it is stored so that you can get the tool back to where it needs to be after doing the work.
On the software side, many creative techniques can be used to realize more or less, the same kinds of waste reduction. In software systems, a lot of time is wasted looking for a customer, an order or a document regarding an insurance policy, premium or claim. Many, many different ways of locating the information you need in your own software systems could be provided so that you can locate these things you are looking for quickly.
Partial field values, common spelling mistakes could all be supported in the software system. If you are searching for "Peterson", allowing for searches for "Pete", "Peter". "Pieter" pulling up the record for "Peterson" along with others could help the agent quickly locate the customer, order or other things the agent is looking for quickly.
Fifteen years ago, term indexing and search technology was not mature enough for these kinds of searches to be implemented in software easily without every company developing these components from scratch. These days there are many indexing and search software packages that can be incorporated into your own software that there is no excuse for not including them in comprehensive ways. These kinds of insights are rarely talked about during Requirements Gathering phases of such software development but they should be!
Reduction of wasted time is a great opportunity for Business Process Outsourcing services providers. They are always looking for Business Transformation possibilities while they take up responsibility for delivering a Business Process as a service. Since many of them are also IT vendors in addition to being IT-Enabled Services (ITES), this is a great win-win on all sides by making the BPO payoff with associated IT projects also!
There is Gold in them Thar Business Processes. You can get to it by eliminating wasted time looking for things!
You’re searching, Joe, for things that don’t exist; I mean beginnings. Ends and beginnings — there are no such things. There are only middles – Robert Frost