Sunday, September 27, 2009

A new twist on the Taj Chaat process...

For those who have seen the previous post on process improvement at my local Indian chaat
restaurant will probably be intrigued on yesterday's twist.

We were buying some appetizers to go. In this case 2 samosas and an order of golgappe. Normally the process (at least for dining) is to write the items on a form, be assigned a number and given the vibrating pager to let us know when ready. Collect food, eat, check out by handing over the pager so they could locate the items to be villed from an accordian file.

For take-out, the process is very different. Again I fill out the little 2-part form. But before handing it over to central oredering, I take both parts of th3e form to the cash register. I pay for the order. Both parts of the form are stamped paid. I take the form back to central ordering where I am given the a number and a vibrator. The order is prepared, vibrator goes off and now what? I go to the station to pick up the order, but since the collection point of the vibrators is the cash register how do I return the vibrator?

This is made harder because the worker at the cash register is a different person from the one I paid. So there is no session state anywhere. I have a vibrator that has vibrated and a cashier who expects to take cash. She can't find the form parts in the accordion file.....

So why is this important?
Again seeing how non-IT organizations think about the processes that run their own businesses makes us aware that we shouldn't be overengineering. There are exceptions - things that don't follow the normal path that we just have to work around. Of course each workaround decreases efficiency, but if they are sufficiently rare, then the overall efficiency is not decreased by having work arounds. However, if the workarounds do become cumbersome, expect them to be worked on without negatively affecting the frequent path activities.

Oh, and by the way yes the golgappe and samosas were worth it! The whole bill was $6.56!