Origami Risk’s 2018 User Conference, held last week, utilized a new format that not only placed a premium on client presentation of use cases, but also focused on digging into “how” presenters managed to implement their specific solutions. Listening to a diverse set of cases, several common trends emerged.
1. Transparency is key
Many of those presenting echoed the need to establish transparency and accountability in their processes. You can’t measure what you can’t see, and you can’t improve what you don’t measure. The most obvious culprits were paper-based procedures—everything from workplace safety “coaching cards,” to incident intake reports. Spreadsheet-centric workflows, such as data-heavy values collection efforts, also failed to identify the “who, what, when, and where” type of information required to make any process fully transparent.
Converting paper forms, circulating spreadsheets, and long email chains into simple, trackable digital forms and audits provides several benefits. First, the entire process becomes open and visible at every step. Next, metrics provide rates of compliance, identify bottlenecks, and suggest process adjustments that managers can use to improve the effort. Lastly, with data now reportable (instead of remaining stuck in a file cabinet or warehouse box), the organization gains new insights based on actionable intelligence. Transparency improves the process, but the data itself fuels the organizational change.
2. Overcoming decentralization
One common obstacle presenters spoke of facing was how to promote new solutions in a highly decentralized organization. Whether it’s from years of mergers and acquisitions, or due to the sprawling nature of some large organizations, highly decentralized environments led to units asserting their own independence and making enterprise-wide changes daunting. Several conference attendees commented on presentations, “That sounds great, but there is no way our different units would agree to a common solution!”
Presenters, however, faced these same decentralization challenges but were still able to create successful programs. To do this, they tended to start with one small, change-tolerant part of the organization and work up a pilot. Once successful, that unit began talking up the new solutions, creating demand to be included in the pilot. This bottom-up, pull effect (as opposed to a top-down, push mandate) made it a lot easier to gain acceptance and expand the rollout.
Additionally, some presenters offered a give-and-take hybrid approach. Organizational units were free to continue to use their existing collection tools/apps, so long as the data could be fed into Origami Risk. This respects the independence of organizational units, but makes sure the data silos are eliminated and information is centralized.
3. Understand where data needs to live
Presenters spoke of how to connect decision makers with the new data generated through these solutions. Instead of forcing executive teams to log into the system to view reports, dashboards were pushed out to the decision makers as conditions warranted. This allowed decision makers to make informed, strategic choices based on intelligence not previously available (while still not being forced to learn a new system). The results of this approach were impressive.
One client presenter related how they tied an incentive structure to a new audit process and saw a 15% reduction in claims—estimated to have saved the organization over $1.5M. A smaller scale improvement in a document management process allowed another client to increase productivity which resulted in the department re-absorbing previously outsourced scanning services—saving the organization $30K a year without increasing headcount. Once the intelligence was pushed out to those who needed it, better decisions were made, even if the recipients never touched the Origami Risk system.
4. Need “no-training” solutions for the field
Many of the solutions presented relied on wide scale data collection in the field, with the numbers needing the ability to enter data ranging from 5,000 employees to one involving over 100,000. Presenters were emphatic that these efforts would not be feasible if they resulted in a deluge of requests that would swamp IT. Additionally, some of these positions faced turnover rates of 40%, meaning the solution was “new” to a large portion of the population on an ongoing basis. This meant that these solutions had to be intuitive and easy enough to use that they were effectively self-serve.
To do this, several techniques were employed. The hover-over feature was heavily used to provide context-based help in a non-intrusive way. Similarly, since forms could be easily customized, directions and explanations were embedded in the forms themselves. In order to make the forms truly self-serve, however, many went even further with a strategic approach to data collection.
Rather than simply listing all possible questions/fields that could be possibly collected, the presenters looked carefully at what each respondent could answer, and focused on that first. “Don’t ask them what they don’t know,” one said. By narrowing the scope of questions, and triggering some questions to only appear when other data indicates they are necessary (see point #5 below) the process became streamlined and confusion minimized.
5. Use data events to supercharge the process
A common element in several of the presenter solutions was to rely on Origami Risk’s ability to trigger actions based on data entry. This ranged from creating fully-automated billing approval routing based on claim amounts and jurisdiction, to incident reports that were highly tailored based on elements such as the type of vehicle involved. In each case, the logic and triggers needed to be sorted out only once. After that, all of the decision making was removed from the person entering the data.
Not only did this lead to consistent collection and improved accuracy, it dramatically sped up the process. This put nurses back on the floor and drivers back on the road much faster—a key concern of supervisors for these positions.
The breadth and ingenuity of the use cases presented at the conference highlight how powerful the inherent flexibility of Origami’s platform can be. Each of the presenters spoke about how they were now being approached by other departments to see if additional solutions could be created for them. These conversations often started with, “Could we use the system to…[fill in the blank]?”
This democratization of process improvement, which empowers each unit in the organization to think about how to drive change and enhance the bottom line, can be a positive and highly contagious force. The presenters’ case studies demonstrate how it is possible to make everyone in the organization a problem solver, and measure results to test effectiveness. The stories were certainly inspiring, and the attendee follow-up questions made clear that these presentations were beginning to spark innovative new outside-the-box uses for their own systems.