My experience taking Oakville Transit’s new Hub To Home service


wpid-wp-1437590023757.jpgA few weeks ago, Oakville Transit started a service called Home 2 Hub. The service is an on-request service which picks up commuters in the newly developed housing area. This is the area where we moved in just over a year ago. So I decided to give the service a try. Being someone who relies on my car to get me to the commuter train (GO Transit) station, I was a bit skeptical about the service overall, as well as the scheduling and timeliness of the pick-up and drop-off. What really got me interested was that they picked me up right at my house.

So I decided to give it a try; and I liked it. The bus came right on time (a few minutes early on several instances) and was on-time in dropping me off at the central hub, from where I got on to another bus which took me to the commuter train station. wpid-wp-1437590095725.jpgOverall it was a very pleasant experience. For the first couple of times I conversed with the driver and got to know that he would be the one on that route each day.

My guess would be that Oakville Transit is really using this as a two-way pilot to test out whether there is enough demand for a dedicated bus route in the area. And secondly, they could be using this to pilot how they can figure out the demand without actually setting up a dedicated route, only to have to shut it down, should there be no demand in the future.

I would absolutely love to see if they plan to offer this service over the weekend, as it would make it easier to rely less and less on an automobile to get to nearby grocery store and other establishments.

For the next few months, I plan on using the service on Wednesday and Fridays, the two days where I do not have daycare pick-up duties. :)

A job well done Oakville Tansit!


Simplifying expense submission and payout process


Several organizations have taken a re-active step to automating the process which enables employees to send expenses for reimbursement. A lot of these organizations tend to enable the ability for employees to send the expenses online through a system of some sort. Once submitted the expenses then go through a manual review, decision and approval. Once approved the funds may (or may not) be automatically deposited into the proper account.

Recently I came across an organization (a really well established cloud services organization – more on this later) which required employees (and potential employees) to send their expenses via email. That’s right, electronic mail. There is a generic email account (i.e. which is where all new/existing and potential employees send their expense form and receipts as a PDF. There is a size limit restrictions to make sure that the PDF’s are not too large. The established SLA to get the expenses paid out was about 4-6 weeks.

While I did not have the opportunity to dive deeper into the process at the tail end after the submission took place, I am hopeful that the 4-6 week delay is not directly related to human beings actually going through and verifying the expense form and tallying up the limits and $ values to make sure it matches.

I would be shocked to see that large organizations choose not to solve these simple processes and make them automated and digital end-to-end. Each step from the time the expense is incurred to the expense is paid out can be shortened and handled digitally. Software and technology can ease the process each step of the way. The data from the expense receipts can be extracted using optical character recognition (OCR) and decisions can be triggered based on rules to decide whether the expense is within or over the threshold. If it is over the threshold, it can be flagged for a cursory human review, which should take least amount of time.

This might seem like a complex process, from experience I can guarantee you that most expense submission and payout processes are very similar. But simply enabling the user to submit them through a “digital” or “online” fashion does not make the process simpler. I would argue that majority of the organizations time, specially if the amount of expense submissions volumes are significant, is wasted in having the back-end process be human driven, and not automated.

In summary, solving some of the simpler processes should provide a level of confidence and the necessary know-how when trying to automate and truly digitize processes which are core and supporting their operation.

Process automation and digitization


Organizations, big and small are all focusing their time and energy on digitization and “going digital”. While we’ve been working in a digital world ever since computers became mainstream, the new revised focus is to be able to transact digitally. In order to do this, the smart organizations understand that their processes can’t simply be made digital by adding a digital veneer to it. They really have to start re-thinking their process from a digital viewpoint.

Some organizations decide to focus on the front-end of the process, the one which the customer interacts with, and make it digital while maintaining the things as they are in the back-end. While this will work, it does offer a huge disadvantage to everyone involved, the customer, the organization and more importantly the employees. Organizations do really need to take a look at the process and re-design and re-implement it with the focus that the customer may interact with us in multiple ways, whether it be digital or non-digital, the process must work equally to handle either scenarios. More importantly, where possible the experience end-to-end should be a “digital” or automated one, which relies less on human beings and more on technology to drive it in the most seamless and efficient way possible.

Only then can you truly say that you are a “digital organization”.