Overprocessing: the #1 waste of professionals

Perfectionist, attentive to detail, or simply professional. Qualities that can become a danger if we are not careful. Overprocessing lurks at every turn. So how not to fall on the wrong side?

What is overprocessing?

It is simply overdoing it. Overdoing it from the customer’s perspective. It’s doing something the customer doesn’t need, want, or use. It’s about placing yourself from the customer’s point of view, and knowing the value he perceives in your service. This value may be different from what you imagine. It is best to take an example.

I use a translation service to translate a document. Once we agreed on the price and the deadline, I send my document by email. I receive the translated copy with the translation certification a few days later. Here are the actions that the translator performs.

Quiz: in your opinion, which steps are overprocessing?

#1. Accuser réception du document

Cette première étape est discutable, mais pour confirmer au client le délai de livraison et surtout que le document est bien arrivé, qu’elle commence à travailler dessus, je trouve que ça apporte de la valeur. J’ai envoyé à la bonne addresse et ce n’est pas passé dans ses spams. C’est d’autant plus important si nous n’avons pas communiqué par courriel initialement.

#2. Renommer les fichiers avec une codification interne

Cette codification interne est une preuve de l’organisation de la traductrice. Elle ne va pas mélanger mon document avec d’autres et l’envoyer à un autre client. Je la paye pour qu’elle travaille correctement.

#3. Identifier la police utilisée dans le document pour produire une traduction visuellement identique à l’original

Une policie similaire fera l’affaire, pas besoin d’avoir la police exacte. Ce qui compte c’est surtout la forme générale du document.

#4. Traduire le document

Il s’agit du coeur de la valeur produit par la traductrice.

#5. Demander au client de clarifier un terme ou un concept

Pour faire bon du premier coup, elle me demande des précisions. Cela va accélerer son travail et surtout éviter un retour et une correction après avoir fini et livré le document. Ni elle, ni moi ne voulons d’un délai de reprise.

#6. Faire des recherches additionnelles sur le terme ou le concept sur Internet

Ce sont des recherches additionnelles. Si elle n’a pas compris, c’est embêtant pour elle, mais je ne suis pas prête à payer pour ce travail additionnel.

#7. Relire pour des erreurs de traduction

C’est discutable. Dans le but de faire bon du premier coup, il ne devrait pas y avoir de relecture. Mais nous sommes des humains, et donc faillibles. UNE relecture apporte de la valeur. Pas deux, trois ou plus.

#8. Faire un suivi de l’avancement au client pour confirmer la date de livraison prévue

Le délai étant de quelques jours, le suivi n’apporte rien au client. Le suivi serait utile pour informer d’un retard dans la livraison.

#9. Mettre la traduction en forme

Pour simplifier l’utilisation du document, il est indispensable que le texte traduit ressemble au document original. La mise en forme fait partie de la valeur fournie par la traductrice.


#11. Zipper les documents avec un mot de passe et communiquer celui-ci par téléphone au client

J’ai envoyé mes documents par courriel, ils ne sont donc pas si confidentiels. La traductrice devrait me renvoyer mes documents de la même manière. Elle a sûrement raison. Mais en temps que client je ne valorise pas cette étape. Pire elle peut m’énerver car je devrais la recontacter si je perds le mot de passe.

#12. Envoyer la traduction avec la facture

Même si la facture est moins agréable, elle fait partie de la prestation de service et apporte de la valeur au client.




Bravo, vous avez compris le concept de surqualité. Ou du moins, vous la voyez comme moi…

L’important est de réflechir au contexte et de se placer du point de vue du client. La surqualité est toujours nuancée.

Is it clearer now? Do you share my view of what has value or not?

Remember that the value is in the eyes of the client, not in those of the translator providing the service. She may find it super important to look for the right typeface, if the customer does not value it, it is overprocessing. She spends time doing something the customer doesn’t want to pay for. In the same way, I pay for a correct translation. Not for errors that will be corrected…

Why is it a problem?

We all do have quality standards higher than needed in some areas. In general, it is associated with things that we like. As we enjoy doing the task, we do more, it becomes too much and we waste our time.

Please note that I am speaking from a productivity and customer point of view. I care about your well-being at work. I don’t want you to become 100% productive in your 40-hour week. No one can live like this, our brain needs breaks.

From the point of view of the customer, and therefore of the performance of the organization, overprocessing is a waste. It does not generate any value for the customer. It’s wasted time. Your employee could be doing something else more important to the customer, or just working less for the same result.

Examples of overprocessing and associated waste

Collect information that will not be used

It’s tempting to want to measure everything when you’re handed a time tracking tool. How long did I spend on this step, in this process, for this client. But ultimately, how are you going to use the information? What decision are you going to make? If it’s just to know, for fun, then it’s leisure, not work…

Produce a report or document in case

To reassure ourselves, we ask our team to analyze data or carry out research. Worse, we pay consultants to do it. Once the report is submitted, it is read (or not) and it collects dust in a corner. No one takes action after reading the report.

Help others without telling them

Everyone wants to do well, and we have our little quirks. In an effort to help, we sometimes do things that others have to take over. The lack of communication is the cause of this over-quality. There are many examples: the receptionist attaches the receipt to the invoice, while the accountant immediately detaches the two. The clerk renames the scanned documents and the analyst renames them differently. The buyer is negotiating prices with suppliers, while the engineer is negotiating with other suppliers.

Remedy for errors or lack of training

Although it happens every day, it’s hard to detect. People work and are busy.

Take the example of a communications specialist. He took two days to create an email list. Very good communicator, the advanced functions of Excel were unknown to him. The next time, he simply told a data analyst what he wanted, and she pulled out the list in less than an hour.

Spelling review is another example. You can use an auto-corrector or have someone else proofread. But re-reading 10 times your own text does not improve the quality, especially in a short period of time. Our brain is unable to see our mistakes. I am aware of it, I am shocked at my spelling miistakes when I read an article a few years after having published it.

How to produce the right level of quality?

To avoid overprocessing, it must first be identified. Unfortunately, it’s easier to see the splinter in your neighbor’s eye than the log in your own. You can use the comments of your colleagues or relatives. “You’re not overdoing it a bit” should turn on the overprocessing light in your brain. When you spend time on a task, you may wonder if your customer would be willing to pay for it.

What to remember

In any case, to judge well, knowing the value delivered to the customer and the vision of the organization are essential. It all starts with the customer, and they are the only judges in the end.