When we talk about business processes or workflows, we are talking about the way information moves around a company or department. Business process information can move in a number of directions: between people, between systems, or from people to systems (and back again). Here are three areas where business communication gaps commonly occur:
People – people gaps: When one employee needs information from another in order to execute a task, the transfer of information becomes a critical part of the business process. When employees fail to pass on the appropriate information to their counterparts in a timely, concise, and accurate manner, inefficiencies and errors can occur. People gaps can occur both within a single department, or across departments.
Often times, people-people gaps are addressed with any number of IT initiatives. Take the classic example of cc’ing someone on an email. In this informal way, the email sender attempts to keep the appropriate people ”in the loop” in order to close a people-people gap. However, the process is not formalized and there are no guarantees that it will be repeated.
People – system gaps: People-system gaps occur when the information a person needs from a system is not easily accessible, readily available, or accurate. When people-system gaps occur, systems fail to provide people with the information they need to do their jobs and inefficiencies occur. Likewise, people-system gaps occur when people fail to enter the appropriate information back into systems.
Take the example of a difficult-to-access database. People may neglect to update the database, rendering it useless to anyone who seeks up-t0-date information. Likewise, employees may create a “work-around” solution, defeating the purpose of having a database at all. When people can’t easily pull or push information to and from systems, the systems themselves risk becoming obsolete.
System – system gaps: Often times, system-system gaps occur when a business process is cross-departmental or cross-functional. Sharing information among systems from different departments, or among multiple systems in different areas, can present a communication challenge. When different departments or business units use different IT systems, data must be entered and re-entered, leaving room for data entry mistakes and creating gaps between different parts of an organization.
When communication lapses or errors occur in any of these information transfers, it can cause significant inefficiencies, waste, and business process delays.