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“Very insightful, as it made me think about asking for things in a different way in order to get a different outcome”



BPM Tips for the Virtual Team Facilitator - Part 2


As promised for Part 2, here are some tips for specific BPM methodology activities when the venue is virtual:

Prepare an agenda and send it out ahead of time.  Think about what the outcomes are, what agenda items you need, what methods you will use to engage participants and accomplish the agenda items, and how long each item will take.  Remember to allow time for introductions and wrap up, and know what section you will drop if you need to.  I like to plan an important agenda with a colleague.  I always find two heads are better than one.

The BPI Charter.  I have done this over the phone many times with the four key players, the Executive Sponsor, Process Owners, Project Lead and internal Team Facilitator.  It takes 60-90 minutes.  I send ahead a charter template (not filled in) and an example charter completed.  I take all the notes and send them back or put in a shared repository that the same day.  I follow the template and type it in real time, or do it online and type it into a BPM modeler or BPMS that everyone can see in the cloud.

A Swim Lane As Is Diagram.  I work with the Project Lead to identify an instance we will use, and have them gather some initial data for the instance if they can.  I have someone else enter the diagram while I facilitate, sticking to the Instance and constantly asking, “What happened next?”  The documenter builds the process diagram in the tool the company uses.  Everyone  can see it.  It takes a bit longer than face to face but it works fine.  The group can stand two to two and a half hours.

Analysis Techniques. (such as Notched time line, or Five Whys,  or identifying data categories for quantitative data gathering).  All of these are possible, but it is best to keep the notes visually so everyone can see how the ideas are being tracked.

Scheduled meetings with the Executive Sponsor, Process Owner, Project Lead, and Internal BPM Facilitator.  This can be done by phone (audio only) or using a tool with screen sharing.  I prefer the latter, and would use a documenter in addition to the Team Facilitator if the task is cumbersome.  The BPM Team Facilitator could also do the recording if it is easy.  Use a preplanned template format vs. just text as is it more structured.  Send ahead any materials you want them to look at and make a request in the email of what you want them to do, such as ‘Look at the data in Figure 3.  I think it has some interesting opportunities for improvements.  What you see?”

Making Decisions. Gaining consensus.  Many virtual tools have a poll which allows you to take votes.  Use it.  Think about what decisions you know will come up in the meeting and have the written out ahead of time, with possible answers.  You can tell participants to vote for one, two , three, or as many as they support.  Then look at the results and see if you already have high agreement or there are still some points to discuss.

Let me know what questions you have about BPM Team Facilitating virtually.  It’s fun if you have that attitude.  In part 3 of this blog I will talk about ‘Difficult People’ and how to handle them in the Virtual World.   

If you want to learn more about facilitating virtually in BPM situations read more about and register for my two virtual courses, Starting and Organizing a BPM Project (next offered in Feb. 2014)  and Analyzing and Optimizing BPM Processes (offered Nov. 20, 21, 2013).

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