Automating Healthcare
Solving business problems with savvy automation
 


Classifieds

Business problem
In some companies, the corporate e-mail system becomes a virtual bulletin board, with workers broadcasting personal messages about items or services for sale. We wanted to do something other than just say "no." We wanted to provide a virtual replacement for the old bulletin board by the water cooler.

Electronic classifieds
The best solution was something quick and simple on the intranet. We created an on-line "classifieds" application, and gambled that workers would follow the rules well enough to avoid any significant problems.

The first step was to identify the "rules of the road."

Classifieds FAQ
You must read, agree with and accept all of the terms and conditions contained in the User Agreement before you may use Classifieds.

  • If you submit an item to Classifieds, your item will be reviewed by [corporate] administration. If you have provided a valid email address as part of your submission, you will automatically be notified when your item has been reviewed and approved (or not approved).
  • Once submitted, an item may not be modified. If modifications are necessary, the item must be cancelled and a new item submitted.
  • If your submission is approved, the item will be visible to users of Classifieds for a period of two weeks. After two weeks, the item will automatically expire and will no longer be visible to users.
  • If, after approval, you wish to withdraw an item from Classifieds, you may cancel an item (that you have submitted) at any time.
  • When you submit an item to Classifieds, you will be given an item number. Please keep this number until the item is no longer listed; you will need it if you wish to cancel the item.
  • If you have a question about Classifieds, please email [the intranet mailbox] and your question will be forwarded to the appropriate person for an answer.

User Agreement
At every visit to Classifieds, the user must "click through" the user agreement. This is written in as plain language as possible, and includes all the usual rules and disclaimers. The click-through screen, with a small portion of the user agreement, is shown below.


The initial page for everyone is the search screen. Any search term(s) may be input, or none. If none, all current items are displayed.


Another option is browsing either the For Sale or the Wanted items (for sale items shown below).


Selecting the title of any item (see list above) displays the item detail (shown below).


Submitting an item is very simple. The current user's corporate e-mail address is displayed by default, but any other e-mail address may be substituted (shown below).


Upon submission, the confirmation screen provides a reminder about the posting process, and a posting ID number (shown below).


At any time, any worker may review the list of his/her pending items. This is automatically displayed for the current user (shown below).


Each new classified listing is reviewed and approved by a designated person in the Chief Information Officer's office. Each day, this person receives an automated reminder if there are any items to be approved. If any items are awaiting approval for more than three days, an e-mail is sent to a couple more people for follow-up.

The approval process is very simple: select an item from the list of pending postings (shown below), and either approve or deny. If the posting is not approved, a reason is given and the submitter is automatically notified at the e-mail address they provided in the posting.


Outcomes

  • Classifieds met its objective, providing an outlet for the personal postings that previously clogged the e-mail system.
  • Workers have been pretty good about following the rules.
  • Workers like the tool, using its steadily for several years.

Lessons learned

  • It's always better to be able to say "here's an alternative" instead of simply saying "don't do that."
  • Presented with reasonable rules and a reasonable attitude, the vast majority of workers will act reasonably.


Posted 11 November 2008

   


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