Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair
We have often heard it said that problems exist between the keyboard and chair (PEBKAC) and that the solution is to replace the problem. Is that a statement to make without knowing all of the facts? Could it be that the problem exists because of the business processes implemented for employees? Inefficient manual time-consuming business processes hinder employee performance, affect their morale, and leave room for employees to circumvent or augment their process related tasks to complete their responsibilities. I would like to share an example of a true PEBKAC situation that was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and it included the PEBKAC being erased from company memory.
We were contacted to help assess the process of receiving and handling customized orders for tradeshow media and exhibits. The company’s Sales Manager and Accounting Manager were at odds as to how to handle the processing of these orders. The solution they implemented was to print each order in four separate colors using four separate reams of paper on four separate loads of the same printer. They created four times the headache for employees as they walked the large manufacturing facility hand delivering order copies. The pink copy was delivered to Accounting, the green to the Production Department, the blue was retained by Sales, and the white went to Shipping and Receiving. Aside from the health benefits gained by employees walking the facility grounds, this process was destined to fail. Management assumed that production delays, errant shipments, and sales to customers on credit hold were the result of employees not paying attention to their responsibilities, hence the PEBKAC scenario.
Thankfully, the company’s president loyal to his staff, asked for an outside assessment. He was grateful that he did. In a matter of weeks, his operational output reached a record high as the old process was replaced with a new simplified automation that had employees praising management and eagerly answering sales and customer service calls.
A Business Process Automation software was installed and configured to monitor the company’s eCommerce site as well as inbound email orders containing PDF document attachments. The Automation performed a multitude of scheduled and event triggered tasks for each of the departments involved as it worked 24x7x365 to process all orders, proactively alert staff of potential issues, notify customers of order status changes, and deliver sales performance reports to key decision makers.
Late one Saturday evening, the Accounting Manager called my personal cell phone to apologize for being so difficult. Until that moment, she had been regarded as a hostile opponent of the project. She informed me that she had been in fear of losing her position to an automated business process. She quickly realized that the process was designed to help and not to further hinder her productivity. As we talked, she began to cry as she shared that the workload created by the former manual process had her working 10 to 12 hour days including weekends which took valuable time away from her family and caring for her ailing husband. She called that Saturday night because it was the first Saturday she could remember not having to work and she wanted me to know. She had spent the entire day with her husband and family and she was truly grateful.
What a transformation! It’s amazing how a well-thought-out solution can turn a workplace from chaos to harmony. It goes to show that assumptions about where the PEBKAC lies can often lead us astray. I’m glad the president had the foresight to seek an outside assessment and that the end result brought relief and gratitude to the employees, especially the Accounting Manager. It’s a great reminder that technology, when implemented thoughtfully, can enhance our work lives rather than threaten them.
SUMMARY OF KEY TASK AUTOMATION
NOTE: Hundreds of trees were spared by the creation of this automation.
- Import eCommerce orders into CRM
- Create new customer records, and check the credit balance of existing customers.
- Email customer notifications including confirmation of orders, change order verifications, and status updates
- Include scannable barcode order identifier on RMA documents
- Monitor sales email for inbound orders, detach and store PDF documents from email then organize and store them in the company digital documents folder
- Convert PDF documents into readable data for import into CRM
- Transfer completed orders into the accounting system for invoicing
- Update CRM with common AR information to allow Sales to answer customer inquiries directly
- Proactively monitor then notify Sales and Production Managers and of customer balance issues before assembly begins
- Monitor and then notify as production stages are completed
- Monitor material consumption then email replacement orders to vendors
- Scan barcoded RMA documents to retrieve customer details from CRM
- Transmit shipment details to the shipping company
- Print shipping labels and related documents
- Email customer shipment tracking details
- Monitor and alert when potential drive space issues are detected on the digital document drive
- Perform scheduled database maintenance and record updates and cleansing
- Email scheduled reports
- Email order details to all departments to eliminate manual hand delivery of paper copies
- Update the CRM order checklist for all to view as orders progress through the production and fulfillment process
- Monitor and process web inquiries as sales leads, assign the correct sales manager, and track follow-up activity.
- Email digital catalog requests
- Create fulfillment orders in CRM for hard copy catalog requests