I LOVED this article, both the general content and the specific examples.
I try to build these types of ideas into my applications all the time and have another example to share. One of the more successful strategies has been to automate inter-staff communications (where communication is the final purpose, *not* an e-mail to initiate some mundane task that could be handled automatically as discussed in the article). For example, suppose every time a user adds an "abuse referral" to our database, the client's worker needs to be kept informed. My application checks to see if the "reported victim" is a client and has a worker at all. If so, the database or front-end (it depends) automatically sends the e-mail containing the pertinent information.
This kind of feature does several GREAT things, including:
. 1) saves a great deal of time for the user who is suppose to initiate the communication, (even short e-mails take time to type out and the time on even short e-mails adds up over time)
. 2) improves moral because the user who initiates the communication is saved from having to do a tedious, mundane task. Also improves moral because users feel happy when they have software that actually helps them with their work,
. 3) greatly increases communication compliance and consistency since often these types of communications get forgotten accidentally,
. 4) provides a written record of the communication. In lieu of the auto-e-mail feature, staff instead are known to leave a quick voice message or post-it note or talk in the hallway.
Adding auto e-mails is easy for me as the developer/DBA. It is low-hanging fruit with great returns. Of course, when creating a new project, users do not often think to ask for such a feature. They don't think about how time-intensive and inefficient their current processes are. Thus, it is up to me to look for these opportunities and provide them. When I do, boy do our staff get happy!
I agree whole-heartedly that many small projects or features provide huge gains and should be actively looked for. Thanks for the article.