Hello, I am Hayashi from the Marketing Department.
Who hasn’t experienced an inadvertent mistake at work?
As human beings, it is difficult to eliminate 100% of these mistakes.
However, sometimes a small mistake in work can develop into a major situation that could affect the company’s credibility, so error prevention is a major issue regardless of industry.
In this article we will explain how to create a system to prevent work errors in the context of business processes.
What are the Causes of Work Errors?
Careless mistakes are often caused by a lack of attention. Forgetting a task that needs to be done or skipping a necessary step are examples of such mistakes.
So why do these mistakes happen? The causes can vary. For example, if fatigue is causing a loss of attention and concentration, taking appropriate breaks may help prevent mistakes.
However, if there are problems with work procedures or the work environment that are causing frequent errors, then these need to be reviewed from the ground up.
Problem #1: No «check» process
If no one in the business process checks the work (deliverables), then;
- Establishing a «checking process»
…may help to reduce errors in the work process.
The figure below shows a business process diagram for handling inquiries.
At first glance, there appears to be no problem, but there is no checking step in this process, and no measures are taken to prevent operational errors. This could result in a response email with errors or misspellings being overlooked.
Therefore, we will improve this as shown in the figure below.
By designating a third party to perform the checks, errors can be detected at an early stage and their effects can be prevented from spreading.
Another method is to incorporate processes such as double-checking if a simple check is not sufficient. However, it is also important to keep in mind that checking also costs time, labor, and other costs, and to be careful to avoid unnecessary duplication of work.
Problem #2: Operations are not Standardized
On the other hand, there are cases in which each individual has his or her own way of doing the work, which may cause work errors.
While veteran workers can perform tasks according to the procedures that are easiest for them, newcomers have a disadvantage in that they find it difficult to understand the correct procedures.
Even those who know the work well may make mistakes due to carelessness caused by familiarity, and performing work without a clear understanding of the procedures is a high-risk activity.
Therefore, standardization of operations is necessary.
Standardization of operations means extracting the best business procedures at that point in time, and then creating manuals so that everyone can follow the same procedures.
If standardization is properly implemented, it will be easier to avoid mistakes caused by lack of knowledge or experience. However, even if a manual is prepared for a person who is familiar with the work, he or she may ignore the manual and skip processes that are not considered necessary or cut corners in less important processes.
This disregard for manuals is troublesome because it may lead to more efficient work for the employee, but if this disregard for manuals becomes the norm, it is hard to understand why manuals exist.
Therefore, it is important to constantly optimize the work process by promptly improving the manual when a problem is discovered or a better method is found. By taking the initiative in this process, each member of the team will have a sense of ownership, and a culture of compliance with the manual will be fostered.
Establish Business Processes to Prevent Work Errors
Now, we have discussed the causes of work errors and their solutions. As many of you may have already noticed, preventing work errors is closely related to improving business processes.
For example, whether it is improving or restructuring a business process to include a checking process, or extracting the best procedures and creating a manual, such work cannot be done without first gaining a firm grasp of the entire business process.
What is needed is visualization of business operations.
The modelling of business operations is intended to make it easier to grasp the flow of business operations by presenting a graphical representation of the flow. In the above section, process diagrams without checking processes and process diagrams with checking processes have already appeared, but these are business process diagrams (workflow diagrams) drawn in BPMN notation.
For example, the figure below is an example of a basic business process diagram drawn using BPMN. The «process» part actually includes specific tasks, but this diagrammatic representation allows anyone to intuitively grasp the flow of the entire business process.
Other business processes can also be represented visually to obtain advantages such as the following:
- Gain a bird’s eye view of the entire business
- Make it easier to identify problems and issues
For example, bottlenecks in operations (points where operations have become stagnant) and unnecessary duplication of work, which have been somehow overlooked, may become clear at a glance when they are depicted in a diagram.
Automate Operations to Prevent Work Errors
On the other hand, there is a solution to avoid human error, although it may sound a bit rough, which is to not have humans perform the work.
For example, if the work involves data collection, entry, and processing, one approach is to introduce RPA tools and have robots take charge of these tasks. Of course, there is a cost involved in introducing RPA, but the advantage of RPA is that by having a robot perform simple tasks on behalf of a human, the human can focus on more important tasks. Robots do not lose concentration due to fatigue, nor do they make mistakes because of it.
Another effective way to prevent work errors is to use BPM tools to automate the progress and management of the entire business. In the case of Sanshin Electric Co. Ltd. which uses Questetra BPM Suite for order management, it is reported that the introduction of BPM tools has not only reduced input errors but also succeeded in reducing costs.
Questetra Helps Build a System to Prevent Work Errors
In the above section, we discussed two types of software: RPA tools and BPM tools. Roughly speaking, RPA tools are tools that automate specific tasks that are part of business operations, while BPM tools automate the progress and management of the entire business.
However, there are cases in which the handing over of tasks becomes an issue when introducing RPA tools, for example. This is because there are cases where it is time-consuming for a human to give work instructions to a robot or for a human to receive the results of work done by a robot.
However, these issues can be solved by linking BPM tools with RPA tools.
This is a collaboration in which the entire business process is managed by the BPM tool and the process by the RPA tool is incorporated into the BPM tool. This linkage automates the work transfer between humans and robots and enhances the effectiveness of RPA tool implementation.
Questetra BPM Suite, introduced in the case study mentioned above, is a cloud-based BPM tool that can be widely integrated with RPA tools.
Questetra BPM Suite is available for free trial. Why don’t you start by visualizing and reviewing your business processes with Questetra and practice preventing work errors?
▼ You can also apply for a free trial here ▼