In physics, friction is broadly defined as a force that resists motion. More friction means more work required to move in the direction that you want to. However, this concept isn’t limited to physical objects–we frequently make use of the term in software, as well.
For example, in the world of online retail, friction applies to any part of the workflow that makes it harder for the customer to purchase a product. Consider this:
- Does the customer need to create an account before purchasing? That’s friction.
- Does the customer need to wait for e-mail approval before completing the checkout? More friction.
- Does the customer need to call the company first to verify her identity? That is an overwhelming amount of friction— and yes, some retailers do still do this!
If there is too much friction, the customer may decide that it’s just too much effort and will look elsewhere. Eliminating friction has the opposite effect, as companies like Amazon have learned. Reducing friction in the purchase process–sometimes to a single click– leads to a better shopping experience and more sales.
Friction in the EHR/EMR World
In the EHR/EMR world, friction is everywhere. Physicians, specialists, and staff want to move forward with diagnosing and treating patients, while the regulatory environment naturally generates friction in response. Adapting to a new technology platform can cause friction, as well. The main benefit of EHR and EMR software is to reduce friction on these fronts. EHRs that succeed at this create smoother processes for their customers and higher KLAS rankings for themselves.
Friction in a single department
Software developers also encounter friction that can dramatically slow their progress. Working through unfamiliar code can become a quagmire. Attempting to insert a new feature into an existing architecture can also pose a challenge. At SRS, we have cross-team workgroups comprised of developers and managers with mandates to address these issues. For example, our Architecture workgroup is responsible for making it as easy as possible to accommodate new features and requirements. The Quality & Standards workgroup is tasked with ensuring that teams are following the same standards, so that a developer can parachute into a new area of the codebase and still feel like it’s familiar territory. Less developer friction translates to less frustration and higher productivity, and we are always looking for ways to reduce friction even further.
So I ask that you take a few minutes and think of where there is friction in your organization, and what steps you can take to reduce it. Doing so will bring countless benefits.