Hello again!
Now, let’s talk about the main topic, how to reduce work errors by 90% with a workflow system.

The table of contents is long, but I hope you will read on with enthusiasm.

Causes of mistakes that have come up so far and countermeasures (ideas)

First of all, I have organized a table of solutions for the causes of mistakes.
In the two tables, the top row shows the mistakes that can be solved by training and how to solve them, and the bottom row shows which ideas are in contrast to the causes of mistakes according to the idea of error proofing.

Cells marked with a circle indicate that the solution is applicable (the solution in the row applies to the “mistake” in the column). Gray cells also indicate that the solution listed in the row is not applicable (or cannot be said to be applied) to the corresponding error.

Lack of knowledge Lack of skills Lack of morale Inadequate planning/environment Inadequate procedures
Require or encourage the creation and updating of work procedures.
Assign a mentor who can be easily consulted and asked questions when the work procedure is not clear.
Start with simple tasks that do not require advanced use of tools and gradually move to more complex tasks through on-the-job training.
Share working know-how about the tools in the form of workshops and materials.
Periodically review the validity of procedures
Regularly conduct internal audits to ensure that procedures are being followed

We have also created a table for error proofing to deal with each mistake.

Lack of knowledge Lack of skills Lack of morale Planning and environmental deficiencies Inadequate procedures
Occurrence prevention Elimination
Elimination of work
Elimination of risks
Substitution
Automation
Support Systems
Simplification
Standardization and centralization
Specialization and individualization
Adaptability
Spillover prevention Anomaly detection
A system that calls for immediate attention
Organize entrances and exits
Specialization

Record and verify operation
Limitations of operation
Confirmation of results
Impact mitigation
Redundancy
Fail-safe
Protection

If I interpret the contents of the first and second blogs in this series, I think I can express it like this.


How can a workflow system solve this problem?

Now, what happens when you compare the solution in the table above to a workflow system?

The following table shows the results.

Workflow Systems
(Questetra BPM Suite)
Notes
Require or encourage the creation and updating of work procedures. ・Operations Manual
・Annotations
・Grant Edit/Create permission
Assign a mentor who can be easily consulted and asked questions when the work procedure is not clear. ・Instant communication via Open Chat
Start with simple tasks that do not require advanced use of tools and gradually move to more complex tasks through on-the-job training. ・Lane
Share working know-how about the tools in the form of workshops and materials.
Periodically review the validity of procedures. Heat Map
Graph
Regularly conduct internal audits to ensure that procedures are being followed Log
Workflow System
(Questetra BPM Suite)
Notes
Occurrence prevention Elimination
Eliminating work Eliminate unnecessary work in the workflow construction phase
Eliminating risks It is possible to build a workflow where risks is eliminated
Substitution
Automation Automatic start
Automating arbitrary tasks
Support Systems Input Assistance
Automatic task assignment
Automatic deadline
Simplification
Standardization and centralization Integrate information management by linking with external SaaS
Specialization and individualization
Adaptability
Allocation based on skill by lane classification
Allocate tasks to skill-competent people with the forced allocation function
Spillover Prevention Anomaly detection
A system that calls for immediate attention
Ability to decide how to handle errors when they occur
Organize entrances and exits
Specialization

Record and verify operation All logs can be checked
Limitations of operation Restriction of operation during task processing (input check)
It is possible to determine the handling of errors
Confirmation of results Can be checked in logs
Any information can be attached
Impact mitigation
Redundancy
Assignments can be made to multiple people by using lanes
Fail-safe
Automatic error handling
Protection

Cross-checking existing solutions with solutions in the workflow system

Mandate/recommend that work procedures be created and updated

We believe that Cloud-based Workflow Questetra BPM Suite supports work procedures in the following three points.

  1. The workflow diagram itself represents the overall work procedure
  2. You can create a business manual and refer to it from the processing screen
  3. You can add annotations

All of the above can be created and viewed in a browser.

There are some companies that still use paper procedures, but considering the cost of revision and distribution, as well as the cost of distributing the same procedures to all employees, being able to operate the procedures themselves in electronic form will become an essential environment in the future.

Above is a sample of a workflow diagram. Click on it to see the screen details.

In this workflow diagram, you can see how the tasks (processes) are broken down by each person (department or division).

The color of each part represents the type of task (pink for start and end tasks, light blue for human-processed tasks, and gray for automatic (system or program-processed) tasks).

Just by having an environment where you can see the whole picture from a bird’s eye view, it becomes easier to envision the work procedure.

Business Manual on the Workflow System

When you create a workflow, the business manual shown in the red frame in the figure below will be added as a standard feature.

The business manual can be written in text / Markdown format.
In addition, questions about the business manual itself can be shared via chat in real time.

The figure below shows the actual task processing screen.
When processing, you can refer to the business manual from within the processing screen.


Clicking the Work Manual button will open the Operations Manual in a pop-up window.


Assign a mentor who can be easily consulted and asked questions when the work procedure is not clear.

We believe that Questetra BPM Suite supports the following points for the person in charge (mentor).

  1. Real-time communication with a specific person through Open Chat

When you are unsure of a procedure, you can cite the relevant process (Task) and ask a question to any person (mentor engineer, superior, etc. can be specified), enabling smooth communication even in a telework environment.

The image above shows how to post a chat message in the Task Processing screen.

The posted chats will be immediately reflected in the Open Chat as shown in the image below.
When posting a chat, it is possible to specify the posting range. (All followers, specific departments, specific people)

You can easily specify a specific person or group of people by typing in the @ symbol to get a suggestion display.


Start with simple tasks that do not require advanced use of tools, and gradually move to more complex tasks through on-the-job training.

In Questetra BPM Suite it is possible to assign a task (process) to any person.
This means that tasks can be assigned individually according to the skills of the workers.

You can also use Lanes to assign a process to a specific team.

Tasks can be assigned after determining who in the team is capable of handling the task in question, allowing for flexible responses depending on the situation, such as having a skilled person help out when a worker who can only handle simple tasks is not available.

  1. Lanes can be used to assign processing based on skill level.

For example, in the workflow diagram below we have two lanes, Design Level 1 and Design Level 2.
This means that when the production manager assigns a design task, he or she can decide where to pass the process according to the level of the task.

By selecting a design level at the step of Team formation shown in the figure above, the next task can be automatically assigned to the recipient according to the level.


Share working know-how about the tools in the form of workshops and materials.

In Questetra BPM Suite, we believe that the business manuals mentioned above can function as learning contents.

You can also write annotations in the workflow diagram to remind you when you are working.

Of course, the study session itself is not implemented as a function of Questetra BPM Suite because it will not start unless someone plans it, but for example, by creating a questionnaire form that starts automatically every month and having the participants write down what they want to study in this questionnaire, it is possible to plan the contents of the regular study session. By distributing a feedback form after the study session, it is possible to make clear the points to be improved for the next time and promote improvement.

In this case, rather than solving the problem with the workflow system itself, the workflow system can provide support (for study sessions).


Periodically review the validity of procedures

In Questetra BPM Suite, it is possible to start Tasks automatically at a predetermined date and time.

  • Timer start event
  • Launch a task from an external calendar (Start: Google Calendar: Event Started)

By preparing a regular task to review the workflow itself, you can be aware of the validity of the procedure and take the first step to improve it.

The diagram above is a simple example, but you can start a task that automatically reviews the workflow itself at a set time every month.
In this case, you can use the Timer Start Event or you can link it to the Google Calendar event to start it.


Regularly conduct internal audits to ensure that procedures are being followed

In Questetra BPM Suite, those who have been granted System Administrator Authorization can check two types of logs.

  • System Log
  • Process Log

In addition, those who have been granted Process Manager Authorization can view the process status and task status of the authorized Workflow.


Comparing the concept of error proofing with solutions in workflow systems

Eliminating work / Eliminating risks

Definition of exclusion

  • The idea is to eliminate procedures and tasks that may lead to mistakes in the first place

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

You can eliminate undesirable tasks during the workflow creation phase.

Of course, there are some tasks that cannot be eliminated, but by combining this point with the adaptation process described later, it is possible to assign a qualified person to be in charge of the task, so that only a person with a certain level of qualification can handle the task.

Also, if the process itself is hazardous and you want to leave it to a machine, you can eliminate risky tasks by incorporating an automated process (assuming communication with an external API) in the middle of the workflow.

  • Exclusion when creating workflows

In addition, those who have been granted Process Manager Authorization can view the process status and task status of the authorized Workflow.

The figure below shows how the hazardous process itself is omitted from the workflow.

The diagram below shows a workflow designed to handle hazardous processes only by people with the skills to handle them.

The Hazardous process Lane in the above figure is a simple Swimlane (a lane in which processes are allocated to individuals), but the Team Swimlane allows you to allocate processes to the most appropriate person (the person whose hands are free and who should be allocated) among qualified personnel at that time.


Automation

Definition of Automation

  • Replace human work with mechanical systems

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite you can implement processing automation in various ways.

  • Automate the start (start the workflow)
  • Automate the calculation process (in the middle of the workflow)
  • Automation of intermediate processes (launching the next task in the middle of a workflow with an arbitrary trigger)

In Questetra BPM Suite, functions and parts for automatic processing are provided as standard specifications.
For more information about functions and parts, please click here

It is also very good at triggering the end of a series of business processes to automatically start another business process.

The figure below shows an example of automating the start.
In addition to starting a series of workflows manually, we have incorporated a timer to start them automatically.

In addition to timers, there are other types of automation for initiating processes.

  • Message Start Event (email)
  • Message Start Event (HTTP)
  • Message Start Event(Webhook)
  • Message Start Event (form)
  • Start: Google Calendar: Event Started
  • Start: Gmail: Email Message Received
  • Start: Box: File Uploaded
  • Start: kintone: Record’s Datetime Field

    Details can be found in this link.

The figure below shows an example of automatic calculation in the middle of a workflow.

In Questetra BPM Suite various parts are used to build a workflow and each part has its own meaning.
For example, the gray parts in the figure below mean automatic processing.

In addition to the calculation (data update), there are other automatic processing parts that generate PDF files and upload files to Google Drive, so please check this link for the other parts.

The figure below shows a workflow that accepts an externally generated start signal in the middle of a workflow and automatically proceeds to the next task.

The figure below shows a workflow that automatically launches another process in the middle of a separate workflow.

As shown in the three diagrams, Questetra BPM Suite can incorporate automation.
Of course, we are also good at automating other processes (linking with external SaaS and RPA), so I recommend that you draw a workflow diagram and try to automate the processes that you think can be automated in this area.


Support Systems

Definition of support system

  • Provide support tools to ensure that humans can perform the relevant functions (checklists, guides, samples, input forms, etc.)

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

Questetra BPM Suite can support your business mainly from the following perspectives.

  • Guiding work procedures (you can assign tasks to the right people at the right time)
  • Prevention of errors during work (UI that eliminates the need for manual input with selectable check boxes select boxes, etc. to assist in the allocation of tasks according to level).
  • Prevention of forgotten processing (My Tasks function, forced allocation function)

In addition to the above, there are many other functions that can be called support systems, but in a nutshell, they can consolidate business processes and can be operated as an operational platform in conjunction with external SaaS.

The figure below shows a workflow in which the teams that process tasks are divided into lanes (horizontal frames), and the tasks to be processed change according to the level.

The figure below shows an example of a checklist on the processing screen to prevent omission of work.

The figure below shows an example of preventing forgotten processing. All tasks assigned to you will be displayed in the “My Tasks” column and will remain there until they are completed.


Standardization and centralization

Definition of standardization and centralization

  • Reduce changes and differences in work.

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite it is possible to reduce changes and differences in the work mainly from the following points of view.

  • Launch a regular task at a fixed time
  • Use a dedicated form to process the work

The figure below shows a workflow that allows you to launch a task with a timer.

The figure below shows the links to the digital tools used in the task’s processing screen.
If you need to refer to information in other tools, you can access the necessary tools from within the processing screen to consolidate and centralize the information.


Specialization and individualization

Definition of specialization and individualization

  • Identify changes/differences in the work.

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite it is possible to clarify the changes and differences in the work mainly from the following perspectives.

  • Divide the work process into appropriate sizes and have the tasks themselves processed as different tasks.
  • Color coding of input fields in processing forms
  • Use the guide panel to divide the input items.

The figure below shows an example of dividing a single process into appropriate sizes.

I’ve broken it up into smaller pieces as an example, but not too small (it is more efficient not to divide things that should be processed in a series of operations too finely).
Challenge yourself to break it down into reasonably sized tasks.

The figure below shows an example of how to make changes easier to understand by coloring the headings of the items in the task processing screen and changing the size and color of the text.

By changing the size and color of headlines and text, we believe that a certain level of attention-getting effect will be created.


Adaptability

Definition of Adaptability

  • Make the work object and environment suitable for human capabilities.

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite it is possible to allocate tasks by considering the compatibility of tasks and capabilities, mainly from the following perspectives.

  • Specify the person to whom work is to be assigned individually (assign work based on individual skills)
  • Select and register the person who belongs to the group that will handle the work next (allocate work to the leveled groups)

The figure below shows how the handler of the process (or task) can be set to any person in advance.

The figure below is a workflow in which a person with a certain level of skill is requested to perform a specific process, which is also related to the elimination and support system described earlier. In the horizontal lane, a group (team, group of skilled workers, etc.) can be set, so a process can be assigned to a person who is available in the team.


A system that calls for immediate attention

Define a mechanism for immediate attention

  • Measures should be taken so that an abnormality can be immediately recognized.

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

Questetra BPM Suite can detect anomalies immediately, mainly from the following perspectives.

  • Establishing input rules in processing forms (input control using regular expressions)
  • Send an alert email to the registered email address when some unknown error occurs.

The figure below shows how the rules for entering text are defined in the processing screen.
For example, you can prevent mistakes when entering email addresses (such as using two @ marks).

The figure below shows how an error in the workflow itself is notified via email to those with the appropriate permissions when an error occurs.


Record and verify operation

Define recording and verification

  • Record actions and check for errors at specific points in the process

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite we believe that it is possible to record and check operations mainly from the following perspectives.

  • All activities must be logged
  • Ability to review logs with appropriate permissions

In Questetra BPM Suite all the process history is saved in the system.
The figure below shows a diagram referring to the system log.

The figure below shows a reference to the Process Log.

The figure below shows a reference to the history at the task processing level.


Limitations of operation

Defining operational limitations

  • Limit error-based actions so that workers are aware of abnormalities

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite we believe that workers can notice abnormalities mainly by the following functions.

  • Establishing input rules in processing forms (input control using regular expressions)
  • The flow of tasks when an error occurs is controlled by error boundary events (in the case of an error, the task moves to the notification task for the error instead of proceeding to the next task).

The figure below shows the handling of an input error (displaying the error to the inputter).

The figure below shows a workflow that stops a task from proceeding to the next process when an error occurs in the task processing itself, and automatically proceeds to the process for error handling.


Confirmation of results

Definition of confirmation of results

  • Check the resulting equipment logs, reports, text notifications, etc. at specific points in time to limit error-based behavior so that personnel are aware of abnormalities.

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite it is possible to check the results mainly by checking the following three logs.

  • System Log
  • Process Log
  • Task Processing Log

There are many areas where checking the results overlaps with checking the operation.

In addition to the above confirmation method, you can also check the status of task retention by displaying the Heat Map.
This makes it possible to visually notice if something is causing too many tasks to accumulate at a single point.

As I mentioned earlier, you can view various logs to verify the operation, but these functions are also useful for verifying the results.
In addition to these log references, you can also use the Heat Map function to see the status of tasks in each workflow.


Redundancy

Defining Redundancy

  • Try to perform tasks with the same function in parallel so that correct results can be obtained even if an error occurs

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite Redundancy can be considered in the following way.

  • Export and import the created Workflow, and set it as a standby system in Questetra BPM Suite in another environment (system-level Redundancy).
  • A system to increase the evidence for correct results by cross-checking the results of human processing (double-checking)

When we think of Redundancy, we mainly think of infrastructure (having the exact same physical system in a different server).
If we dare to apply this to Workflow, we can export a workflow to another environment of Questetra BPM Suite, to prepare it as a cold standby (infrastructure term; a system that is not normally running but is a copy of the production environment and will run in place of the production environment in case of failure of the production environment).

The figure below shows how to export the workflow you have created.

The figure below shows how an exported workflow is imported into a different environment.

The figure below shows how a double-checking process can be considered as Redundancy


Fail-safe

Defining fail-safe

  • Incorporate mechanisms and conditions into equipment and operations that prevent the transition to dangerous conditions caused by errors

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite we believe that it is possible to prevent the transition to a dangerous state as follows.

  • Automatically launch a task to check equipment after a set number of days (also useful for reviewing the workflow itself)
  • Operate with small workflows (Operate by connecting small workflows. Non-monolithic workflows)

The figure below shows a workflow that automatically launches a task at a predetermined date and time. This system can be incorporated simply as an automation system, but it can also be used to perform periodic inspections to detect dangerous conditions.

The diagram below shows a workflow of medium size (subjective).
In a workflow like this, which requires a large number of man-hours and involves communication with many different teams (departments), any error that occurs in the middle of the workflow can stop the entire flow.

Therefore, it is important to design workflows from the perspective of reducing the scope of influence, for example, by dividing the workflow into small workflows and triggering another workflow when the small workflow finishes successfully, rather than making the workflow too large.


Protection

Defining protection

  • Provide protection against loss in the event that an error causes a dangerous situation.

Support by Workflow System (Questetra BPM Suite)

In Questetra BPM Suite we think it is possible to set up protection as follows.

  • The master data is not changed or modified, but the data required for processing is prepared each time and processed by the system.

The conceptual diagram below shows how data is referenced from an external master via the API.

Digital tools, by their nature, hold data. However, this data can be easily added, modified, or deleted if not handled properly.

Therefore, even if the work requires data, it is necessary to prepare a system that does not touch the data that should never be changed.

Questetra BPM Suite can refer to the necessary data from various external masters for processing, so when introducing a workflow system, it is necessary to consider not only the ease of operation and price, but also whether the data can be handled properly.


What did you think?

To be honest, in order to prove that a workflow system can reduce errors by 90%, there are many places where the workflow system is forced to show that it can do this.

However, in order to achieve the engineering policy that I have referred to so far, it is important to know how far the systemization can be realized according to the logical idea.

We need to visualize and arrange people (resources) and business flows logically. If we can create an environment that allows us to process or not process with this combination, we will be able to capture the whole picture of error reduction as a snapshot of a certain point in time, even if it is not perfect.

Furthermore, you can expect to reduce the remaining 10% of mistakes as a group that moves forward with understanding by consciously addressing the adaptation issues introduced in Part 2.

I’ve discussed this for quite some time, so I’ll leave it at that.

And if you want to try Questetra BPM Suite after reading this article, please click the following link to get a free trial.
You can try all the features for 60 days for free.

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