Error Proof Your Admin Processes

Posted by on Dec 16, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

The intent of error proofing or mistake proofing is to make it difficult to commit errors.  Defects and errors are the most common form of waste in the office.  Preventing defects and errors can be very challenging, especially in repetitive tasks.
Quality cannot be inspected in, but must be designed in.  This means that data bases, forms, etc. must be designed so that defects and errors are caught at the work station and are never passed to the next step in the process.  The philosophy is that the person performing the task has the responsibility for the quality of the job they are performing.
The benefits of error proofing are many:
  • Promotes individual responsibility for quality ownership
  • Detect and eliminate defects and errors as early in the process as possible
  • Provide immediate feedback, thus reducing the time for corrective action
  • Establishes a system of successive checks for each operation
  • Focuses on elimination of causes of defects and errors rather than just their identification
  • Enhances customer satisfaction
  • Focuses on waste reduction
  • Improves first-pass yield

Examples of error proofing devices are everywhere.  Plugs on electronic devices that only allow you to plug it in a certain way; CDs that have writing on one side to cue you how to load them into the machine; surveys that have logic to check that you have answered all the questions before allowing you to proceed to the next page; scanners used in hospitals to ensure the correct medication; etc.
In performing error proofing, begin by evaluating each operational step for common errors and defects.  Identify methods or techniques that prevent the errors and defects from occurring and evaluate their effectiveness.  Installing devices on equipment or incorporating checklists into standardized work will help.  When developing work instructions, implement methods that help ensure not only that people will follow the instruction properly, but also that they will be prevented from not following them.

2 Responses to “Error Proof Your Admin Processes”

  1. Excellent. Those principles are easy to write. Now how do you do it for admin processes?

  2. You really have to analyze each process step and be creative in the method you choose. Creating logic code for electronic forms and data base entry fields is a common approach. Another is to provide employee feedback. An engineering department was having a problem with print errors. Accuracy and speed of design were tracked by employee and weekly feedback given as to the number of errors. Some employees that were fast, but prone to errors, were told to slow down! Putting metrics in place and segmenting the data can give you clues as to whether it is a design or employee issue.

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