I’ve spoken about my grandfather here before, and his passive enjoyment for (and frustration with) technology, among other things. I have not, however, previously discussed how my grandfather sends documents via e-mail.

When someone requests a document of my grandfather—be it a Word document, PDF, picture, or series of pictures, he goes through the following set of steps:

  • He prints the document
  • He scans the printout into his scanner program
  • He attaches the scanned images to an e-mail message
  • He sends the message

I’m not sure how he came to divine this completely ridiculous sequence, but the man is nearly in triple-digits, so I do not consider it feasible, at this point, to explain to him how attachments work (though over the years I have tried many times). It reminds me of a comic that I came across a few years ago:

Source: XKCD

While that’s fine among aging relatives, when you’re trying to get human workers in service to do their jobs, failing to follow a standard workflow can do more than be a huge waste of paper and ink; it can be a liability that can cripple business processes across the entirety of a business.

Establishing a workflow is one thing, and training employees consistently on using and adhering to that workflow is another, but fundamentally, your software investments should be engineered in ways that keep employees within the critical path of your established workflow, and there’s a pretty straightforward way to do so:

Your Sequence Needs to be Seamless

There are a lot of service platforms that paper over their inefficiencies through an army of third-party software solutions, or, alternatively, buying companies, cherry-picking capabilities, and slapping them into the box alongside their core product. Then what ends up happening is that systems do not pass data back and forth effectively, can’t tie ticket information to scheduling, and become beholden to inconsistent upgrade patterns and the potential of dropped support for software areas integral to business success.

That’s why it’s so important that from asset monitoring (if applicable) through service delivery, and everywhere in between, your systems need to run in a common language. A consistent handoff means that deviation from an accepted workflow becomes more difficult, because much of moving step-by-step will be automated. The onus of button-pushing moves away from the employee and onto the software itself to prompt and more through a set of standardized processes.

This is obviously not a cure-all for avoiding workflow deviations. We’ve discussed before the importance of building service software that contours to your business operations, so workflow management is natural. But seamless software solves more problems than just keeping employees on the critical path, and if it can help avoid workflow deviations, that’s yet another bonus.

Tom Paquin
Author

Contributor, Future of Field Service