The Seven Dimensions of Problem Solving
Examples of the process of solving a problem effectively.
I recall using the problem solving dimensions when confronted with the dilemma on work-related quality control implementation in our department. Being the head of the QC committee on the finance department my goal was to identify opportunities for improvement in our department.
One of the hindrances I was able to identify in my goal of seeking improvement was in the area of check release. Every day, the check releasing officer would type checks which are due or about to be due. Suppliers would come anytime of the day. The check disbursing clerk would have to go down each time the supplier arrived which happened almost on an hourly basis.
This has posed a problem to our work flow because the check disbursing clerk also happens to handle the fixed assets updating, VAT recording, bank reconciliation and input of export-import data. The clerk's constant attention to check disbursement has disrupted her work which in turn affected her productivity and lessened her output.
To address this problem, I need to gather information to determine the average minutes daily that the check releasing clerk needed to issue the checks to suppliers. Then I look at the clerk's output with regards to her other duties such as the export-import updating.
From the data I gathered, I noticed that the clerk spent an average fifty per cent of her time attending to check release and the other fifty per cent were divided among the rest of her responsibilities. The rest of the clerk's duties were quite complicated and demanded a lot of attention in order to prevent errors. Considering that check release is supposedly a very basic process which does not require much mental effort, it should not have accounted for fifty per cent of the clerk's time.
My choices include designating a specific day each week for check release or release it on a daily basis but on specified hours.
In order to minimize the time consumed in releasing checks to suppliers, I decided to implement a Check Disbursement Day. This means we designate a half day each week where the clerk would go down and release the checks to suppliers. After considering the work load for each day, we chose Friday 8-12 noon as the best time for releasing the checks. Extension time for those who cannot make it in the morning would be 1-2 pm. Those who come beyond the specified hours were advised to return next Friday following the schedule. We posted the schedule on the walls for the suppliers to see. And we inform them about the new schedule before implementing it. We even called suppliers to disseminate the information.
The plan was quickly implemented. All suppliers were informed. And the following Friday, after the information dissemination, we were able to implement the Check Disbursement Day. The clerk's time on releasing checks were effectively lessened giving more time to attend to more complicated duties.
In hindsight now, I would have improved on dimension # 6 because the information dissemination was not handled perfectly. There were some suppliers who changed their contact numbers and were not informed of the changes adopted. When they came to pick up their checks on a day other than Friday, we were forced to release their checks but warning them to follow guidelines strictly next time. This again resulted in minor disruptions or delays in clerk's work.
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