Usage Profile Series: The Information Processing Usage Profile
The concept of a Usage Profile was introduced in this post on September 19, 2016. This series of articles will describe eight role-based Usage Profiles plus a Foundational Usage Profile. These profiles cover well over 90% of all employee and contractor roles in the US, across all industries. Each Usage Profile article will describe:
- The primary type of work done by people in the Usage Profile
- The vertical industry segments where the Usage Profile occurs
- The metrics for workers in the Profile
- How the Profile is unique
- How workers in the Profile communicate
- The technologies and tools used by workers in the Profile, currently and evolving to the future
This post considers the fifth Usage Profile, Information Processing Workers.
Usage Profile 5: Information Processing Workers
What Information Processing Workers Do
The Information Processing (Info Processing) Usage Profile comprises workers who are in an operational role and who process transactions for the core business or for enterprise functional departments. Info Processing workers have defined workflows for each type of transaction.
Many workflows are straightforward, such as adding an employee to the directory or changing a customer address in account records. Some workflows are more complex, such as transactions that have exceptions requiring cross-references, peer or management reviews, approvals, or interactions with the requesting party.
In most cases, workflows are automated as part of enterprise software applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), workflow processing software (such as Pega Systems, CSC Automated Workflow Distributor, et al.), and similar software applications for procurement, logistics, help desks, payroll, finance, and other activities. Like contact center software, the workflow software may be aware of the skills, training, or certifications of the Information Processing Workers and may assign the transactions to queues for specific Information Processing Workers or groups of Workers.
Communications needed for the workflows will be included in the workflow software, with automation of communications activities such as emails, text messaging, fax, or postal mail.
Information Processing Workers will usually be non-exempt, or eligible for overtime, so will work specifically scheduled hours. They work at a computer with one or two displays. Information Processing Workers may work from home on some or all workdays. The communication technology for work from home is described in the Foundational Usage Profile.
Information Processing Worker Titles and Industries
Analysis of U.S. employment by occupation1 shows that Information Processing Workers represented 13.2 million US workers (8.9% of employment). Information Processing Workers are found in almost every industry in enterprise-wide activities such as procurement, human resources, help desks, payroll, or finance. Vertical industries with the largest populations of Information Processing Workers specific to the operational workflows include Insurance, Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Distribution, Education, Federal/State/Local Government, and Utilities. Job titles include Specialist (e.g. Procurement Specialist, Human Resources Specialist, Benefits Specialist), Technician (e.g. Help Desk Technician, Procurement Technician), Clerk (e.g. Order Processing Clerk, Records Clerk, Tax Clerk, Permits Clerk, Registration Clerk, Appointments Clerk, Accounting Clerk, Data Entry Clerk), Word Processor, Typist, Buyer, Purchasing Agent, Claim Adjuster, Analyst, Underwriter, and Examiner.
Information Processing Worker Metrics
Information Processing Workers are measured on efficiency and quality. Efficiency is a measure of how many transactions are processed in a given time period. Quality is a measure of the percentage of transactions that are correctly processed (100% less the percent of transactions with errors). The departments responsible for information processing will likely be measured based on the total expense as a percent of the associated product or service revenue (E::R). Information processing in enterprise support departments such as Human Resources will simply be measured as an expenses item. Information Processing department costs may be considered as part of the cost of goods sold or as part of the general and administrative expense, depending on the types of transactions being performed.
How the Information Processing Worker Usage Profile Is Unique
The Information Processing Worker Usage Profile is similar to the Contact Center Usage Profile since Information Processing Workers are processing a queue of transactions using a computer at an assigned desk during an assigned shift.
Areas where the Information Processing Usage Profile is similar to the Contact Center Usage Profile are:
- Transaction Oriented: Information Processing workers focus on completing the workflow steps or transactions as assigned to their work queue to optimize the performance metrics of efficiency and quality.
- Desk-based: Information Processing workers require a computer, screen, keyboard, mouse, and electronic or paper reference materials that are best used at an assigned desk, whether on-premises or in a home office.
- Skills-based Work Assignment: An Information Processing Worker may represent a set of experience and skills that the automated workflow software uses for optimal assignment and routing of the transaction queues.
Areas where the Information Processing Usage Profile differs from the Contact Center Usage Profile are:
- Defined Workflows: Information Processing Workers follow pre-defined workflows for each type of transaction and for the most frequent exceptions to those transactions. The workflows are commonly managed by a software program (CRM, ERP, workflow software, etc.).
- Specific Metrics and Monitoring: Information Processing Workers and their supervisors will receive feedback as to the efficiency and quality of their work.
- Minimal Real-Time Communications: Communications related to the transactions will be automated and defined by the workflow software. Information Processing Workers will seldom use the telephone, IM or email when processing normal transactions. Very complex transactions or unusual exceptions may result in an IM, voice or email request for assistance from an Information Processing team expert or a supervisor. Text-based communication (email or IM) will be preferred since that can readily be captured in the workflow software records. If a transaction requires speaking with customers, clients, citizens or employees, that will typically be done by adding an outbound call to a Contact Center queue or by sending a notice to the customer, client, citizen or employee via email, text message or postal mail, describing the exception and requesting the recipient use self-service options or the Contact Center to resolve the item.
How Information Processing Worker Communicate
As described above, Information Processing Workers have minimal need for the functions of Unified Communications. However, Information Processing Workers will be provided with a desktop voice communications tool – whether a basic physical phone, or a softphone on their desk computer and a headset – and with email and Instant Messaging (IM) accounts. The Information Processing Workers will also be equipped with a voice mail or unified messaging account.
However, as noted before, these communication tools will be used for exceptions, rather than in the normal course of work, since communication related to their workflows is automated in their software applications.
Incoming calls to the Information Processing department may justify a hunt group or similar method to allow essentially all calls to be answered during normal working hours.
Information Processing Workers, similar to Contact Center and Production Workers, will require meeting rooms in which they can have department meetings, both in-person and online depending on the Information Processing Workers’ locations, and participate in online job-related training. These communication tools are included in the Foundational Usage Profile.
Information Processing Worker Communication Directions for the Future
Communication tools for Information Processing Workers will increasingly be built into the software applications in which the transactions are being processed. As this trend continues, the need for a physical phone on the Information Processing Worker’s desk will likely vanish. The physical phone will be replaced by a softphone and headset capability, either built into the transaction processing application or included as a bundle with the email and unified messaging license.
However, it is likely that this evolution to embedded or bundled communications will occur at a slow pace, since the cost of the current basic phones, voice mail, and email for Information Processing Workers is usually very low already, primarily consisting of a maintenance agreement on the existing PBX system.
The Information Processing Worker Usage Profile has a minimal requirement for communications outside of the functions that are included in the software applications used for transaction processing. Usually, the communications tools provided for Information Processing Workers are already very basic and very low cost, so there is little reason to change them.
However, the communications services for Information Processing Workers should be made very visible to the IT Architects and IT Application departments so that the job-related communications needs of Information Processing Workers will always be included in the continual improvement of the Information Processing applications deployed in the enterprise and in the on-going functional roadmap discussions and negotiations with the vendors of those Information Processing applications.
For the Information Processing Usage Profile, be sure to understand the workflows of those departments and carefully examine the places where communication technologies are required to optimize the workflows. Then, collaborate with the relevant application teams (CRM, ERP, workflow applications, functional applications, etc.) to be sure the optimal mix of communications is being provided. Note that at some point in the future, the optimal mix may result in all communications functions being provided by the relevant application software.
1US Bureau of Labor Statistics Table 11b. http://www.bls.gov/cps/tables.htm#charemp.
Also on UCStrategies.com in this series: