The classic consultant joke - the guy who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is.
Recently a group of SVP Cincinnati Partners met to understand the scheduling process for our current investee - Family Nurturing Center. Reviewing the forms, the reports, the process and exceptions brought back many memories of my consulting days at Accenture. The advantage of hiring new smart college students with limited experience at Accenture was the fact that as they interviewed clients and gathered data they would always be asking ---- WHY? Why do you do that? Why is this form necessary? Who really reads this report? Where do you send this data?
In fact the best consultants are those that ask Why at least three times. Why do you do that? Tell me again why you need that form? I didn't understand the first time - Why do you fill it out this way? Who uses this form?
Traditions are hard to break and layers of controls (or one time needs) begin to weigh down forms, reports and processes.
At Accenture the "Just in Time Manufacturing" group had a methodology called - "Eliminate, Simplify, Automate then Integrate. When reviewing processes it is important to eliminate steps (forms and reports) first. Then Simplify the step. Usually this is where 80% of the benefits come from. Only then should you even consider computerizing - Automate. And for goodness sakes don't address the most complex (and expensive) step of integration until you have satisfied the first three - or else all you will do is integrate a complex, inefficient, and redundant process.
Why ------- can't this step be eliminated?
Why ------- can't you simplify this form and eliminate some of the data
Why ------- fill this form out manually - let the computer scan it.