Note:  This blog – the sixth installment in a series on the “Seven Wastes of Muda” as they relate to court document management – deals with the first “O” in TIM WOOD: Over Processing.

For a lot of folks “Over Processing” just does not have the same level of intuitively obvious wastefulness as most of the other Wastes. Sure, courts transport lots of stuff (Transportation); pile things up (Inventory); sometimes move like dirvishes (Motion); and hang around (and make others hang around) literally like there’s no tomorrow (Waiting).  But “Over Processing”?  It almost sounds GOOD: If a little bit is good, a lot must be better. 

 And does Over Processing really apply to courts anyway?  The most frequently cited example from manufacturing is “painting on a surface that is covered up”.  Surely courts do nothing analagous to that….

 Well, guess what?  The second most frequent example of Over Processing is maintaining both electronic and paper records.  Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department, (DORD for short).

 We all know that maintaining dual systems is wasteful and expensive. (The DORD loves the phrase “wasteful and expensive”.)  How expensive?  The Ottawa County, Michigan courts did an extensive study of the additional costs incurred just in having to print documents for wet ink signature, then scan them back into the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system and maintain the hard copy.  Not surprisingly, the answer was that that cost virtually offset all of the otherwise substantial savings of the ECM system[i]

 Another classic example of the DORD hard at work is checking someone else’s work before performing the next process.  As in, Tom prepared the file and sent it to Mary for scheduling, and Mary reviewed everything Tom did to make sure it really was ready for scheduling, or that nothing has changed in the intervening week since Tom processed it and sent it to her where it waited in her in-basket.  This particular example illustrates one major reason why configurable workflow so drastically slashes time and cost in courts.  Workflow constitutes a double win: the checking is built-in; plus the time lag between steps is eliminated.

 Another type of Over Processing from the manufacturing sector that courts regularly practice is “touching more than once”.   For example, a document that arrives with a payment may be “touched” by an accounting or receipting person, then by a docketing person, then by a filing person.  Here again, eFiling with workflow eliminates those double-touching wastes.

 And there ARE court equivalents of “painting on a surface that is covered up”.  When a trial court has to prepare and send up a case record and file on appeal, generally someone removes any extraneous documents that the appellate court doesn’t want to see.  ECM can eliminate this double touch, on either or both ends.  On the trial court end, the record can be constructed using business rules that govern what material goes and what does not.  On the appellate (receiving) end, ECM can easily provide views that keep the unwanted material out of sight.  No need to paint that covered surface.

 The court Department of Redundancy Department’s operational wing is working and laboring (sorry; couldn’t resist) Over Processing.  But ECM, through eFiling, configurable workflow, eSignature and custom file view capabilities can reduce and lessen (i.e., STOP) the DORD’s involvement.


[vii] Recently the Michigan Supreme Court amended the Michigan Court Rules specifically to eliminate this situation.  See Changes to Michigan Court Rules Enable Use of ImageSoft Technology and Improve Court Efficiency;  More on this change in a future post.

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