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The Cost of Human Error & Achieving Organizational Success
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It is a well-known and unfortunate truth that human error is one of the greatest obstacles to achieving organizational success. We see the detriment of human error in the form of money lost and time wasted. To a certain degree, it is inherent in almost every single organization, but savvy companies, both large and small, are utilizing technology to their advantage in the constant fight for excellence.

Human error costs us money on a daily basis. A company with 100,000 employees loses a staggering average of  $62.4 million per year through human error, and each year it costs the UK and the USA combined a total of $37 billion. Case studies and unfortunate episodes appear regularly in the media, further emphasizing the need for action.

As we all know, to err is human and slip ups are natural. However, there are measures we can put in place to guarantee that human error is kept to a minimum, or eliminated altogether, while ensuring organizational processes run smoothly and productively. One of the most revolutionary movements with regards to business process automation is that of barcodes.  

Barcode technology offers copious benefits across many industries. A notable example of the benefits of barcoding comes from the medical industry, where one study found that barcoding prevented roughly 90,000 serious medical errors each year, reducing mortality rates by 20%. Another source suggests that barcodes reduced medication administration errors by 82%.

Clearly, there is a lot we can learn by implementing and utilizing a barcoding system to improve efficiency, expediency and productivity. Below are a few examples of how a barcode system can facilitate the day-to-day running of a business.

Information retrieval

Every single industry is striving for cost-effective ways to increase productivity. Everyday offices have discovered how they can use barcoding systems to their advantage when it comes to information management and retrieval. Businesses of all sizes are now incorporating barcodes and Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) to index important paperwork. This automation allows the documents to be saved to a shared network, which is easily accessible to anyone who is granted access. To find a desired piece of information, managers and employees are able to simply perform a computer search rather than shuffling through hundreds of papers. On top of this, barcodes can also be used in conjunction with an EDMS to identify specific documents and create follow-up tasks that are automatically scheduled and performed, greatly facilitating workflow.

Increased accuracy

People make mistakes; this is a reality we have come to accept. However, the likelihood of errors occurring increases when employees work for long periods without taking breaks and increases further still when the work is repetitive and mundane, such as data entry or cataloging. However, regardless of how monotonous certain tasks may be, they are integral nevertheless. They must be done to ensure the smooth running, and overall productivity, of an organization.

Barcodes offer a reliable way to read encoded information, meaning that the technology essentially eliminates the chance of human error. This benefits the efficiency of the organization overall. We are all aware of the expression “Garbage in, Garbage Out” (GIGO). Barcodes ensure no garbage is going into the system, so any data retrieved is entirely accurate.

Expediency and time saved

Time is one of the most useful commodities known to man. We all want more of it, and we all want to cram more activities into the limited amount of time we have on the average work day. The introduction of barcodes simply saves your organization a great deal of time. Monotonous jobs are expediently carried out, flawlessly, and this automation serves to save organizations valuable man hours that could be put to far better use performing more rewarding, challenging work.

Money saved

Although an argument could be made that barcoding systems require an upfront cost, it will pale in comparison to the money your organization will save due to the reasons mentioned above. When applied correctly, barcodes can save organizations time and a reduction in errors, which results in reduced costs. In addition, barcoding doesn’t carry the heavy price tag it once did; even SMBs are making use of barcodes, and they can be created easily using Microsoft Word.

There are many other ways that automation can help organizations become more streamlined and successful. Despite this, it is the people behind the machines that are the lifeblood of each company. Automated tools such as barcoding serve to save us time with regards to repetitive, frustrating tasks, but it takes a knowledgeable management team, and engaged employees, to utilize these tools to their best advantage.

Photo by spinster cardigan

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About The Author
Yaakov Smith
Yaakov Smith, a first class honours graduate of Oxford University, has almost twenty years’ experience developing and designing software. He is the owner and founding director of Logican Solutions, a UK-based company that supplies business management software and consultancy to streamline processes and increase productivity.

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