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R. L.,
Universal Weather


Don't Stop with Diagramming the Current Process - Analyze It (part 2)

As promised in Part One, here are four more ways to analyze the process diagram.

Part One showed a Visio process diagram.  Here is the a diagram of a Deferment Loan Process in the standard BPMN.


Which of these approvals do we need?  Could we reduce the number of approvals?  Are our policies or practices outmoded and has that caused us to keep approvals we no longer need?  Could we consult with actors ahead instead of making them approvers? How could we use electronic signatures to speed the process up? Example: We were able to eliminate several approvals in one company and drive decision making down to the lowest level – by setting clear criteria for when senior execs needed to review something, eliminating middle manager approval duplication, and reviewing or changing policy or practices.


Where is the rework?  It is often at decision diamonds/gateways and is shown by loop backs because the process has to repeat certain steps again.  Rework occurs with waste or re-entering data, or systems that don’t integrate and we build a shadow system (often excel) to get the data to integrate. Example:  I can’t tell you how often rework just goes away in a process when you get the right information in at the front of the process and share it widely.  One company decreased the process time for the sales compensation by  more than 50% by getting personnel information, goals and incentives right at the beginning of the process.

Manual Entry and Paper

Where could we automate to reduce the time spent on these tasks? Could we make information available on a system so employees and management could view it there instead?  Could we standardize templates so we consolidated the varied forms of the same task?  Example:  In the employee performance management system of one organization that paper copies of reviews could happen at 8 places, and yet sometimes managers did not have last year’s review.  Was it on a desktop, in a file at HR headquarters?


How many handoffs are there? (Count them and note them on the swim lane = current # of handoffs).  How much time is lost with each handoff? Actually the swim lane diagram does not show time.  We have to add a time line later to show time at each step and time in between steps.  But handoffs increase time, for sure.  What else may increase with more handoffs? Answer:  misunderstanding, errors.  Are there handoffs that are big opportunities for improvement?  Here is a place to gather some quantitative data.  Example:  The number of handoffs in the current hiring process in an organization was 34.  It was reduced to 8 in the new process. An additional benefit in the optimized process was that there was a single point of contact, the recruiter, for the hiring manager instead of 4 different Human Resource roles.

What to do next?

So there are plenty of ideas above about what you can do. Don’t just talk about them.  Gather specific quantitative data to prove the size of the problem. Record them in your Improvement Ideas i4Process list, and discuss which improvement ideas could be implemented now because they are that easy.  Often team members leave the process diagramming session saying, “I have that information you need already.  I just didn’t know it would help you and in what format.  I’ll start getting that to you this week.”  An immediate Quick Win! 

Please add your ideas as well in a blog comment.

If you want to learn more about how to document BPMN swim lane diagrams, facilitate them to get input from the team and stay focused and finish the model in 90 minutes, register for Starting and Organizing BPM Projects – next offered online Feb. 12 and 13. 

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1 comment to Don’t Stop with Diagramming the Current Process – Analyze It (Part 2)

  • A lack of standardization in an organization can lead to many errors and rework during a typical day. An example of this can be seen in finance business processes, which involve data collection, report generation, and reviews. Lack of standardization in these processes can lead to delays, which will create even more frustration for a CFO. When creating new business process flows the ground up, the consultant or front line worker charged with the task often does not know where the process being analyzed begins or where it ends. This can lead to infinite project scope creed and delays in the improvement project itself. A standardized template to map a finance process be found here:

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