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The Importance of Workflow

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by Slaughter Development

Improving workflow doesn’t require intimate knowledge of technical systems. As one blogger demonstrates, it simply requires keen observation.

A writer named Maxime Haineault notes in his post, The importance of a well thought workflow, that the workflow of an automated teller machine (ATM) makes a tremendous impact on the customer experience. He outlines a sequence that will probably seem familiar:

  1. Insert your card
  2. Select your preferred language
  3. Enter your PIN
  4. Chose an action (withdraw)
  5. Enter the desired amount and press OK
  6. Receive your money
  7. Wait a few seconds for the next screen to load
  8. Then the next screen asks if you want to make another transaction (let’s say no)
  9. Wait a few seconds and retrieve your card from the teller machine

What’s the problem? As Haineault, explains, there have been many times that he was walked away after step six, leaving the machine open with his account and holding his personal ATM card!

The solution is incredibly straightforward. Change the workflow to make the order sensible, and the system becomes easier to use and less error prone. The blogger explains:

  1. Insert your card (language is picked transparently from your bank account preferences)
  2. Enter your PIN
  3. Chose an action (withdraw)
  4. Enter the desired amount
  5. A new screen appears asking if you want to make another transaction (no)
  6. Retrieve your card
  7. Receive your money

The second worflow is better because nobody would walk out of the bank without the money they came to withdraw and they give your the money AFTER you get back your card.

This might be only a small detail, but on a large scale system the impact is substantial.

In essence, this is what productivity consultants do. We closely analyze workflow and look for ways to make improvements.

Learn more. Come to one of our productivity seminars or contact us today!

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

The Genius of Library Workflow - About once a month, I volunteer at St. Anthony’s Padua Academy on the near east side of Indianapolis. Their elementary school library is a fantastic place to learn about workflow.
Read on »
Frantic Cashier - This morning at the auto repair shop, the cashier struggled to process a routine customer payment. She keyed in obscure codes to her computer, poured over handwritten notes, and checked the math with a hand held calculator. Read on »
Saving Ink, Maintaining Workflow - Every day, over 600,000 copies of the Washington Post hit newsstands and front porches. Printing now requires 30% less ink yet no additional frustration. Read on »

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