The ability to customize the Resco Mobile CRM and Resco Inspections solutions not only provides a way to let technicians access data in the field and facilitate completing work.
It also provides an opportunity to increase efficiency and productivity within the workplace.
To leverage the opportunity, we deployed a lean approach to process flow known as Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) in Key2Act. This cyclical approach to process flow facilitates continuous improvements.
And with this method, we have optimized several processes in the technician’s workflow. For example, we reduced the number of clicks to complete a procedure called Job Safety Analysis (JSA) from 47 to 15. That’s a 68% reduction of clicks and increase in efficiency.
To better understand the PDCA model and how we achieved these optimizations, let’s go through each of the steps of PDCA.
What is Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) method?
Organizations and individuals use the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle for carrying out a change in business processes. The method consists of four steps, each designed for a specific purpose:
Proposing a change
Implementing the change
Measuring the results
Taking appropriate action
The concept was first proposed by American physicist Walter Shewhart in the 1920s and further developed by William Deming in the 1950s.
The first step in the process flow is using the current mobile processes as the Plan. We begin by analyzing procedures already ‘in production’ without making any changes.
Step 2: Do – Get a picture of the processes in action
In step two, it is important to capture how the current processes (Plan scenario) progress in action.
With any mobile solution, you want to reduce the number of clicks necessary to complete a process.
For example, in our mobile solution, we had a mobile user recording their current process when working on an appointment. In this scenario, it was important to let our mobile users do what they typically do without interfering.
We needed to better understand how they use the solution without jumping in and providing suggestions.
Step 3: Check – Analyze the results
Now, with having a picture of the current situation, it is time to convert that into data that can be analyzed.
We rewatch the video recorded in ‘Do’, and anytime the user clicks or must enter text, we write it down as a new step.
Once all the steps are written down, we go back and group them based on what is the common task that these steps are completing, or what is the user trying to do. From these grouped tasks, we compile an overall process flow.
This step provides data for the process snapshot and provides a baseline with actual numbers (how many clicks/steps to complete a task, how many tasks to complete the overall process).
Step 4: Act – Implementation
If our plan provided the number of steps and process flow procedure to optimize this workflow, we could implement software changes and work on training staff on the updates.
However, since this was our first time using the PDCA cycle for planning, and our workflow is not yet optimized, we moved on and began the cycle again.
The second cycle of PDCA:
Step 1 (second cycle): Plan – Try options by changing the order or adding customizations
To further optimize a workflow, you need to start the PDCA process again by returning to the first step – Plan.
From the collected data, we review which tasks take the most steps and ask:
Can the process be reordered to reduce steps?
What tasks or steps cause the most frustration?
Is there customization that we could implement to reduce the steps?
Can Resco Inspections reduce some steps?
The answer to these questions may not be clear all the time. So we come up with a new plan to try and continue with PDCA to find out.
Step 2 (second cycle): Do – Get a picture of the plan in action
In this step, we try the new plan and record the steps and tasks it takes to complete the same process.
Step 3 (second cycle): Check – Analyze the results
It may surprise you that the best case you thought of is not actually the most optimized. That’s why the PDCA process is so helpful. It gives us tangible data for comparison.
Step 4 (second cycle): Act – Implementation
If we are satisfied with the latest plan then we work on implementing it into production, otherwise, we start the cycle over again with the knowledge we gained from the last cycle.
Our experience with PDCA
For example, we have a process where technicians complete a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) when they arrive on site. They need to identify potential hazards and determine if the site is safe to continue working on.
After utilizing PDCA in this scenario, the number of clicks it took to complete the JSA, and produce the resulting report, was reduced from 47 to 15. That’s a 68% reduction of clicks and increase in efficiency.
Specifically, in our usage of the PDCA review, we were able to reduce the number of clicks for a process by over 50%.
While not only is this a huge increase in efficiency, the other benefit is the ease of use and satisfaction of mobile users. That is not as easily quantified but equally important.
Try PDCA to improve your processes
The PDCA process is a great method to use regardless of how well your mobile workflow is currently viewed.
If your workflow is currently working well, there may still be areas of opportunity for you to uncover for fine-tuning.
If your current workflow is a constant frustration for users, there may be gaps, opportunities in the process, or mobile customizations you identify.
PDCA is a simple process to follow, and the flexibility of Resco Mobile CRM paired with Inspections provides ample possibilities for different plans to try.
This is a great exercise to review on a yearly basis, especially as new features and functionality become available. Try it out, you may be surprised by what you find.
This blog has been written by Nicole Zabel, Software Developer at Key2Act