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“We have successfully used Lean in manufacturing and the supply chain, and we recognized there was a wealth of opportunity beyond the manufacturing floor for the application of lean. We wanted to find someone who had an experience base with business support processes to bring lean to that audience of our company. Shelley provided us that credible source. She brought numerous examples from her experience about how lean principles and tools apply to office and service operations, and helped translate employee questions to show them how the principles applied to what they do.”

Jesse Shearin,
Director of Enterprise Excellence
PPG Industries Inc.


We've Done Process Modeling. Next is Optimization--WRONG Part 1

Not quite!  I can’t tell you how many companies I have worked with who announced we have modeled all the current state process or say we want to begin by modeling all their As Is processes.  And they ask, can you help us with that?  There is nothing wrong with modeling processes, but it takes a long time and it doesn’t produce improvements.  Modeling processes is just one of the first steps.  I suggest modeling the processes you want to improve and do them in groups of three or one by one. Then analyze each and improve them to see business results before you start modeling more processes..

So if you’ve only done the process diagramming, what do you need to do next? Look at the roadmap below showing the phases of a BPM/ process improvement project.  

Develop As I Process models is the fourth blue chevron.  So if your organization started by doing modeling you need to step back and complete the earlier chartering and resourcing chevrons.  For this article, let’s assume you have a charter, with a high level map, scope, improvement targets and vision provided by the executive sponsor and process owner, and a representative team of subject matter experts, and the current state processes modeled. But, if you haven’t done those initial steps, you had better go back and complete them or your next steps will be more convoluted, take longer, and not get the results you want.

But if you have gotten off to a good start and completed the 4 chevrons in blue, what do you do next?

Next is Conduct Process Analysis.  Here there are lots of choices.  I can count over 70 analysis techniques and have used many of them, but there are even more analysis techniques.  So you have to choose unless you want your project to last 12-18 months just in the modeling and analysis stages.

The charter will give you the process owner’s and executive sponsor’s improvement targets and those are key for your initial focus.  These targets should tell you in what areas the executives want to see improvements, such as the examples below:

  1. Standardize the budget process.  Reduce the 15 different budget processes we currently have to one.
  2. Increase the accuracy of the data entry inputs from 65% to 95%.
  3. Reduce the total cycle time from ordering to delivery of medications in the hospital from 18 hours to 2 hours.

The improvement targets outline the critical categories for improvements.  You may make many small and large improvements in your project but they better produce the final result articulated by the process owner.

The vision of the process owner gives you another critical focus, often more in the effectiveness arena, vs. the efficiency arena.

A vision for the first improvement target above might be:

  • We provide standardized budgets with consistent and accurate data within 2 business days of end of month. A summary of key trends and potential red flags are provided for the department head at the same time.

Combine the improvement targets and the vision and you know that you need to standardize the process, get clear data definitions, do it monthly in a specific time frame, and include some value added summary statements.

As you begin to consider analysis techniques, start with the four I consider required: 

  1. Swim lane as it models
  2. Customer scorecards
  3. Quantitative data
  4. I-wasted pain points

If you want to read more about these see my blog entitled, What Analytical Tools Should I use for my BPM Process?  

The four required techniques cover work and information flow, customer needs, objective quantitative data, and employee generated wastes or pain points.  If you have applied these analytical techniques you are probably 80% finished with analysis.  In fact you can stop there if you have a simple process improvement project, and just move on to the design stage.

But if you want to learn about additional and often critical analysis techniques see Part 2 next week.

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