Imagine if Delta Air Lines announced the purchase of a new fleet of jumbo jets: "Today we have placed an order for 24 new jumbo jets at a cost of $150 million each. Each plane will reduce fuel consumption 5% and seat 15% more passengers than the aircraft it replaces. In fact, we think these planes are so technologically advanced, we have decided to forgo pilot training. The cost savings of not having to train pilots will be significant!"
Sure, it's ridiculous, but this scenario is being played out with amazing frequency in remittance processing operations. Millions of dollars are invested in state-of-the-art processing technology with little or no regard for plans to optimize the investment.
By the very nature of remittance processing, the human element plays a critical part in efficiency and quality. Since the persons making these purchase decisions are intelligent, knowledgeable processing professionals, why is the human element neglected?
There are many reasons why training is neglected.
* Vendors provide statistical performance documentation that is used to justify the technology investment. They are not financially motivated to provide the same documentation for training.
* Vendors' suggestions that operators can significantly affect performance might lower the buyer's expectations of what the new technology will deliver.
* Buyers may erroneously assume that with new technology, employee skills are easily transferable and that the "new, easy-to-use technology" will virtually eliminate the need for re-training or new hire training.
The best new technology not only works faster than what it replaces, it processes in new and better ways. For more than a quarter of a century companies have been providing customized training programs for transaction processing operations. A skilled, well-trained operator can have a significant impact in the processing environment. The typical performance improvement in such an environment, after an initial training program, is approximately 15%!
Amortize this increase in productivity over the life of the operations, and you get a real gauge of the importance of training.
Another important reason why training may often be neglected is the "delivery" costs associated with training.
Training on the job (the most common technique) means tying up valuable equipment and the time of experienced operators or supervisors. Training in a classroom environment requires extra space, extra equipment, expensive trainers and often, travel expenses.
The logical solution to this neglected training need is to deliver custom training programs right to the workroom floor (or contiguous area) in a self-training environment that does not tie up expensive equipment or slow down production. This allows seasoned employees to enhance their skills and new employees to be trained at their own pace and schedule. Such an interactive system hones trainee skills and does not disrupt operations. Another advantage of computer-based training is its effectiveness over standard classroom instruction. One comparative study of technology-based courseware revealed a 35% to 70% time saving (depending on the industry).
Most processing operations worship at the altar of speed and productivity, but accuracy plays a vital role in overall efficiency. A recently monitored remittance processing operation showed 22 percent fewer errors in the transactions processed immediately after operator training.
Fewer errors mean less reprocessing and fewer unhappy customers.
Maybe it's a stretch to suggest that remittance operations are as critical as flight operations, but technology performance is critical to the success of a remittance processing operation. To realize maximum return on performance, proficient pilots are as essential as efficient equipment.
Ken Evans is CEO of Abby, a provider of custom, computer-based transaction processing training systems. Mr. Evans can be reached at www.abbyinc.com.