Okay, we’ve talked a lot about roles over the past several weeks. We talked about the volume of data that inundates all of us. The gist of our message was, most data is meaningless to the average person, but they have to sift through it to get to the information that is necessary to inform their decisions and actions.
This winnowing process is time consumptive and ineffective. It’s just too easy to miss the critical puzzle part when you are looking at thousands of parts in order to find the exact right one.
Just for fun, I decided I would try to quantify the amount of information I have to evaluate during a given period. When I look at my inbox, for today, eliminating the blatantly personal items (e.g., my college and hobby LinkedIn group up dates), I find that I have received email content from 27 separate senders.
To further quantify it, I opened each email and counted the number of issues, questions, points made, etc . within each item. On average, each item contained six unique points for consideration, reply, further action, etc. That’s roughly 162 items requiring my attention so far today. The day is roughly five hours old at this point which means I have on average 32 information inputs coming to me via email in each single hour of the workday.
This does not count telephone, walk-ins, stuff on the bulletin boards, virtual and physical, interoffice mail, blackberry mail, google alerts, RSS feeds and all the rest of the “noise” that we are subjected to over the course of a workday.
Regardless, I would wager that my incoming load is somewhat lightweight compared to many people. Nonetheless, it is way more than I can effectively handle. When I periodically clear out my inbox, it will typically include many, many emails that have not even been opened.
This is why, role-based selectivity of incoming data is so important to decision intensive workers. The longer it takes to find the information you need, the longer your decision is delayed. This means that whatever proscribed action you might take because of that information must wait through that delay as well.
Let me put it another way, while you sort through your friend Bob’s email, which is prefaced with a detailed account of his latest exploits on the green, your job is on hold. Sure, you finally get to the last paragraph, where Bob let’s you know that he did indeed close the Larson deal. However, in the meantime your factory is waiting on the order, waiting on you to green-light the special configuration that Larson wants yesterday.
What if your wear multiple hats?
There is another aspect to this that is frequently over looked.
Business roles are not like roles in the theatre. Theatrical roles are pretty exacting. Blanche DuBois is tightly defined by Tennessee Williams. No one is ever going to confuse Blanche with George Bernard Shaw’s version of St. Joan of Arc. However, in the business world, Joan and Blanche could easily be the same person.
None of us fit exactly into an org chart box. We all have multiple facets to our job that may or may not have much in the way of connectedness. If you are working in Finance, you might be responsible for tax-related issues, but also collections. If you sell, you may also be responsible for customer support. A marketing person might be responsible for writing ad copy and for maintaining parts of the company web site.
In each of these cases, there is a need for multiple role support. Different data informs different decisions and supports different resulting actions. Whatever product you are using must be able to completely conform itself to your “job,” not your title. Your screen must have elements or quick access to elements that support both roles.
A role-based ERP implementation must consider this. If you are working with a system that features pre-defined roles, be sure that the roles allow enough flexibility to support all of the daily tasks and responsibilities in which you are involved.
Regardless if your job is made up of one or ten separate and distinct roles, you must limit the data coming in to that which is truly useful to your effective execution of your responsibilities.