Solutions that Won’t Make the Grade

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The effectiveness of a solution hinges on how well it addresses the issue and the improvement effected. Some solutions are quick to implement; others require significant effort and capital. All too often, lacklustre results raise questions about why they were considered in the first place.

Here are several examples of solutions that won’t make the grade.

1. A gatekeeper for quality control

Having a gatekeeper to manage specific work seems logical but it is not always an effective approach. For instance, data entry into a legacy system is restricted to a select few due to the convoluted steps involved. Unless the work is highly specialized, there is no reason why training couldn’t provide the needed knowledge and skills. The introduction of a gateBreaking up work for speedkeeper adds an extra step, leading to bottlenecks and delays. It is more effective to ensure that the best person for the work has the expertise and hold him accountable.

2. Breaking up work for speed

Due to the time sensitivity of the downstream work, the immediate task is split into two parts. The first part is done immediately and the remaining portion is to be done later.  For example, the choice of investment for a client should match his risk tolerance. The financial advisor is responsible to ensure that his investment recommendations are in alignment. To avoid delays in purchasing the recommended stocks, the compliance review is done in two phases by two different people. Delaying part of the work creates duplication. It also poses a risk that the investment made might need to be reversed.

3. Seeking speed when standardization is needed

Doing unnecessary work is wasteful of valuable time and effort. Establishing standards on how work should be done, what the must-dos and discretionary work are helps to eliminate unnecessary workload. Looking for ways to do the unnecessary tasks faster is not the best solution. For instance, preparing for a client meeting must include all the work required to meet client’s expectations. Discretionary work is helpful when time permits. Committing resources to do the discretionary work for every meeting is not necessary.

4. A tool that isn’t adopted throughout the business

Many businesses have applications that are not well adopted or used consistently. For example, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software offers a great tool to capture prospect and customer information. However, when it is not adopted by those who should or is not used in a consistent manner, there is an issue with the data captured. Anyone who attempts to use the data must perform proper reviews and pull data from other sources to make the information whole.

5. Manual workarounds

Bridging gaps with manual workarounds is common. One can use Excel, Access, even Outlook to do tasks that certain applications might not be able to handle. For instance, use of Excel to massage data exported from one system before importing the file to another system; build an Access tool to filter data for decision making; clean up data in a report before distributing it. The cumulative effort for doing the manual workarounds on a daily basis is significant.

Solutions that don’t address the root cause of a problem tend to camouflage the issue. The solution might present itself as a reasonable fix at that moment or a low hanging fruit with little disruptive change. Beware of the misleading appeal and challenge your team for a ‘real’ solution.

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