Many public service providers’ approach to quality falls somewhere between “waiting” for users to report issues to internally inspecting outputs for defects, as part of the delivery process, instead of mistake proofing in the first place. Even though the latter approach is much better than the former, best is building quality into the process. Whilst it’s good to do things right the first time, it’s even better to make it difficult to do it wrong the first time.
- For any given data field, if the possible options are a defined set, only allow the requester to select from a list (instead of entering free text)
- If a list is not available but the data is in a known format (e.g. post code data) validate that the data supplied is in the expected format (for example by using regular expressions)
- Derive the information where possible. For example, see the screenshot from Public Service Request where the requester can click on the ‘Use your current location’ button which obtains their current location and populates the required information on the request. This feature can be used if the requester is at the same location as the issue they are reporting. As well as a time-saving feature, it eliminates incorrect / incomplete location information (e.g. typos)
So do you think you can do more to error proof your processes? If so, how? What examples of error-proofing do you currently apply within your organization?
I look forward to reading your comments.