In-house Issues: Inefficiency Rolls Downhill

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I recently opted into a new health plan. I dutifully filled out reams of documents, double-checked them for accuracy and faxed them in to the appropriate numbers, confident that all was well. Well, all wasn’t well as I soon found out when I received my insurance cards with their printed information mangled and mixed up. I’m not talking about complex health data – just simple names and birth dates.

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A colleague related to me the nightmare he was experiencing having accidentally entered the wrong name of a new hire in his company’s HR database. The new hire was denied a badge because the name on his driver’s license didn’t match what was in the system. The manager dutifully attempted to change the name – a simple action you might say. Not so for the unsuspecting director who quickly discovered after hours with what had been internally dubbed the “Helpless Desk”, that he could not change the name without the written consent of the CEO and Board of Directors (I made that last part up.)

You don’t have to dig too hard to find these types of stories and others like them that sap the lifeblood out of every in-house designer struggling with IT groups who don’t know Macs, HR departments who have been outsourced to Asian call centers where English is a third language and automated equipment request lines that disconnect after the third prompt.

As frustrating as these run-ins with inefficiency, incompetence and bureaucracy are, the bigger story is how they impact a corporate design team’s efficiency. If managers and workers are dealing with these issues almost every day, then how much time can they really be devoting to their core functions. They fall behind and either miss deadlines or, in their rush to make up for the time lost dealing with other groups’ incompetence, make mistakes. The clients are left with dealing with the consequences of the inefficiencies that, like doggie-do, roll downhill.

The best approach to addressing these types of situations is to document them as they occur and quantify the impact on you and your team. This serves a two-fold purpose. First, it gives you the needed rationale to press your managers and the offending departments’ managers for change. Second, it provides you with a credible defense when clients and managers challenge your and your department’s efficiency and competency.

It’s easy to revel in righteous indignation when tortured by ineptitude and red tape. It’s much harder but more worthwhile to do something about it. If your not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.

 

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