Reducing Human Error and Increasing Accuracy Without Removing People

reducing human error and increasing accuracy without removing peopleIt is often theorized that to remove human error, an organization must start to implement more systems that will replace the human aspect of the organization - highly specialized and technological systems are what most often come to mind, but sometimes it is simply the idea of stricter rules and more in-depth accident reporting policies that management intends to put in place.

The idea of replacing human ingenuity is a long ways off, however. Across multiple industries, the value of human effort and real people in the work place is unmistakable - we call out to support lines daily and are frustrated with pushing buttons and dealing with automated phone operators.

Do we really want more automation replacing people we deal with in retail establishments, or even B2B vendors and suppliers, delivery trucks with automatic package placement, or other strange implementations of technology?

It is important to consider human error, define it, and try to be very strict about what is actually considered "error" and what the eventual detrimental effects of these actions are.

When we consider "Human Error" we should break down into two separate categories - active violations of rules or standards that are executed on purpose by a knowing employee, and passive errors that are not intentional by any degree.

Violations occur three ways - routinely as part of every day tasks because exceptions have become the standard and the system never changed, situationally when the employee's decision making responsibility is actually reliant on making a violation to a system or rule, and exceptionally when the rare exception must be made because a system or organizational standard simply doesn't accommodate everything.

True errors occur for one of two reasons: skill-based errors will arise due to a lapse in action or technical skill, or a lapse of memory on the part of the worker performing the effort; what we can call actual mistakes are divided as rule-based, or knowledge-based. Consider whether a worker knew the rule being violated, and if they did, was it intentional? How are the rules enforced? Can the job be done in the manner desired by management and supervisors or executives without breaking the rule?

On an organizational level, it is now time to examine the work being done. Performing a process analysis can be eye opening - it can also be very difficult for those highly involved in the business - it is often necessary to bring in process consultants for this task.

What is most often found is that the system in place to ensure business rules are followed and standards are adhered to is not only outdated, but too rigid to be of any real use - as the market and the environment in an organization changes the business needs to be able to clearly redefine rules and objectives for employees. If the system can not accommodate these changes or enforce them as they become reality, the system fails to do the job it exists for - employees may be doing everything they can but even the best worker can't be held to the unreasonable standard of perfection without the assistance from the company they need.

A good solution? Implement an agile process automation solution that can adapt to the state of affairs in your company even as they change. Whether large leadership changes occur, the market resets, or a huge turnover of employees takes place, be prepared for the shifts by having a system in place to manage business rules effectively and swiftly, as well as push the limits of efficiency for projects across the organization.

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