Quality is a matter of constant focus in the modern working environment. Organisations are under continual pressure, from clients, competitors and internal sources to deliver products and services at an increased, or at the very least consistent, level of quality. It is often the quality of an organisations product or service that sets it apart from its competitors.
To improve customer service an organisation must ensure that all activities are undertaken quickly, accurately and when due. It is therefore common for an organisation to lay down guidance, policies or best practice standards about how work must be completed. This is particularly the case where service level agreements (SLA’s) have been agreed with customers. Furthermore in many situations organisations must comply with their own quality standards, ISO standards or standards set by external bodies (i.e. SA and DPA series).
The LEAP system is designed to allow an organisation to take the business processes that they have written and apply them directly to their workflow system. In this way the system acts as a control to ensure the ideal process is maintained.
Individual activities within a process can be set up as ‘tasks’ in the system. These versatile elements can vary in behaviour, according to the requirements of a particular stage of a process, from acting as simple reminders to allowing for detailed instruction and even automation of activities. Tasks can be triggered automatically by the system at certain times, such as a calendar date being reached, or when data is entered in certain fields or on completion of a task.
Tasks can be structured to inform and train at the same time as prompting an agent. Not only can the Tasks contain explanations or instructions as to what must be done and why, by using the ‘task outcome’ function a user can be guided to resolve the task in specific ways. This means that relatively inexperienced agents can be guided through complex processes allowing more experienced staff to deal with exceptions to the standard process. This approach helps to increase quality in two ways. Firstly, inexperienced staff are mentored by the system and only presented with the relevant information and options they need (in line with their login permissions and the relevant business rules). Secondly, by ensuring that complex work is automatically passed to competent and experienced members of staff, an organisation can be confident that those critical decisions are made by qualified staff.
Typically, these decisions are often high value and high visibility and therefore likely to be closely monitored by customers – in which case any lapse of quality could cost the organisation dearly. If individuals can be supplied with the information and resources that they require to do their jobs, without having to spend unnecessary time and effort in sourcing what they need, their ability to process their work will improve.
LEAP does this in a variety of ways. The system offers unlimited search options, it automatically presents work in a timely manner and it makes all necessary information available to users to enable effective decision making. As the stumbling blocks and excuses for poor quality are removed (bad timing, lack of information, mis-directed tasks, etc.) quality increases.
The configurable nature of the system also permits tasks to be set up to amend data automatically. Why should a user have to set a date in the system to note when a piece of correspondence was received if the system can be set up to do it automatically? Why should an agent have to note the present position of the file if the system can be set to identify the current status from the activity that has occurred on the record? Why should the user have to remember who to call, or even which department to contact, to hand off a file to if the software can automatically notify them that the record is ready to be handed off, and what they need to do when they receive it?
Automatically updating these activities gives a huge benefit to the organisation by increasing the accuracy and quality of the data and the completeness of the audit trail. This automatic updating of records can give a company great confidence in the integrity of the information – especially if an external party, such as clients or auditors have access to the contents of the system (via reporting or direct access).
The problem then comes in maintaining adherence to, and in monitoring performance against, the procedures applied. In other words how does the organisation maintain the level of quality they have established? A process must be followed if it is to have any benefit. By writing processes into LEAP they have to be followed, the only points where an agent may deviate from the process are where deviation has been permitted in the set up.
However, in cases where flexibility is required this can be built into the workflows. In cases where a deviation from the norm is allowed, it can be flagged to a team leader, or even an in-house auditor. LEAP even allows for the frequency of such alerts to be modified on a day by day basis, giving the facility to produce a sample of process deviations rather than having to review every instance.
While administrators can control the behavior of the system on a grand scale, defining the processes that will be used, the data that is captured and the use of the system, individual managers and team leaders etc. can also control the flow of work in the system, thereby maintaining service quality.
No matter how water tight a process may be there are always exceptions. Staff may be off sick, additional load may come in or the process may have unforeseen short falls or bottle necks, all of which must be managed. LEAP tasks can be moved around from team to team, team to user or user to user as required, simply by dragging and dropping the items on screen. The information on screen is always live and permissions can be set to ensure that only certain users may have certain tasks so that work cannot be incorrectly allocated.
The distribution of work ignores physical or geographical boundaries; therefore using a replicated multi-site system, if one user is situated in India and another in the UK they will both have a list of allocated tasks visible in the system. A manager could see those windows side by side and pass work immediately between them as if they were adjacent to each other in the office.
The tasks in LEAP are not only a building block for the configured processes, nor are they just a means to allocate and distribute work, they also act as a measure of the volume of work that has been processed, when it was done, how swiftly it was resolved and by whom. This can be viewed on screen using the LEAP task management console or can be presented via regular scheduled reports.
Tasks can be assumed to take an equal amount of effort or specific tasks can be loaded to show that they relate to longer or more involved work. All of which presents appropriate users with useful and current management information necessary to maintain the agreed quality service.
LEAP functionality works with the aim of helping a client organisation to improve and maintain a quality service offering. The system remains adaptable, the information contained within is visible and accessible, and the client is in control.