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“This method not only provided excellent tools, it also helped us build the habit of criticizing our own process so we can make it better.”

David Scronce,
Director Strategic Initiatives
University of California, Berkeley


How Data Unveils Clues to the Solution – Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 11.40.19 AMAnalytical data is a name I use for any data that helps to analyze the current process.  It is quantitative data for any step, gateway, or sub process; it is data about inputs from internal and external suppliers, including the customer; it is data about time, waiting, and queuing; it is quantitative values to clarify root cause analysis (such as check sheets, Pareto charts and other reports); it is data about variation, and other types not specifically mentioned. 

Analytical data helps the BPI team

  1. See where the big problems are in the current process
  2. Determine where clusters of problems are
  3. Find inefficiencies that appear in many areas
  4. Determine the leverage areas for root cause analysis and finding solutions

It may be difficult to gather real data about how the process works today.  If the company has a BPM suite, then the suite can gather real time data from the current process.  But otherwise the business process improvement (BPI) team will have to gather the data ‘manually’, by (1) looking at input forms for the last month and seeing how many were complete and accurate, what kinds of error categories there were or (2) time stamping transactions at each step in the process to determine times of steps and wait between steps or (3) noting where each process instance flows to identify the frequency of different paths, or (4) reviewing email requests, etc. Figure out how many data counts are needed to make a realistic assessment and get that many.  No need to go back for 1000 transactions or for a whole year.  Make the data revealing but not overwhelming.

With this information teams can see what areas to focus on in their process designs.  They can determine if getting rid of problems early in the process will have the domino effect of eliminating problems later on so those problems don’t need to be tackled.  Analytical data also provides language to create compelling stories of the current situation and later comparisons to tell of the extensive improvements.

Data is the best way to talk across levels.  Most organizations have many hierarchal levels, and it is difficult for any employee or manager to talk more than two levels above them or below them because they do such different work and see the organization from different perspectives.  But these conversations are possible with data. So get and use data to see what the situation is today, what the data says could be the situation in the future, and data to communicate in meaningful ways on many levels.

Want to learn more about selecting the right data, how to gather it, and how to use it?  See The BPI Blueprint:  A Step-By-Step Guide to Make Your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured and Successful Chapter 6 on measurements in the book for more information on this topic.


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