Picture appears courtesy of Michael Wifall. In March of 2012, I wrote a blog titled "No Purge Routine? Are You Becoming an e-Hoarder?" Now, in June of 2016 I find myself dealing with that topic and also with a pet peeve of mine, documentation of procedures and process steps. Let me explain why all of this popped up suddenly.
As you probably know if you follow our blogs, we assist companies with their EDI mapping. When their EDI software is installed on their servers, we stress the importance of a regular purging process to keep their files at a reasonable size. We point out that the system will run faster with smaller files. While people understand that, the task of setting up the purge procedure goes on their To Do list and soon is forgotten or becomes that task that there is never time to do as the criticality of it is in the future.
Going back to the story, the EDI system of one of our customers recently came to an abrupt halt due to an error that a file had reached the maximum size allowed on the system. Of course this happened late on a Friday afternoon as people were getting ready for a 3-day weekend. They just had to get out those last EDI documents and then off to cocktail hour! The call went out to us (luckily our support staff had not started their cocktail hour yet!) and we worked with them to get the purge started. It ran for 6 hours. Hopefully, the company will now put a regularly scheduled purge in place so this will not happen again. This reminds me of companies that do not have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place...until after a disaster.
Now, to the lack of documentation of procedures and processes. The President of one of our customer companies called me and said their EDI person (we will call him John) had moved on to another company and the person John had trained to do his job had also left. There was no documentation of what needed to be done. So we rolled up our sleeves and delved into their system to make sure the EDI documents were all sent and received with no errors. They brought in another consulting company to assist with the ERP interface as that was not documented either and was developed by John. If you are a follower of our Blogs, I refer you to the blog Kristen Kearns wrote back in May about Documenting Your EDI Processes. Kristen includes a great list of essential items to include in your documentation.
I am a big fan of checklists. They help you make sure all the steps of a process are done in the correct order and are of great assistance if someone else is filling in for you. We had two instances this spring where one of our employees was unexpectedly out for an extended period. We insist that our project managers create what we call a client sheet for each of our customers that contains all the pertinent information about that account in case someone else needs to work on a task for that customer. So between the client sheets and checklists, we were able to get through the extended periods when those people were not available.
We all know these things need to be done, the problem is like the problem with a Disaster Recover Plan, there never seems to be time to do it. Just remember that the consequence of not doing these things can cost the company a lot of money, lost time and lost business if the company cannot recover quickly enough.
Click below to read our case study on how we helped Alimed optimize their EDI operations.