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“Shelley Sweet was recommended to me at a time when I was seeking professional assistance to lead the District in the development of a strategic plan. It was a fortunate meeting – with Shelley’s experience and guidance we were able to assemble a broad range of community members to form a design team. The team participated in a series of activities to assess, discuss, and develop the outcomes to create the classroom of the future. Under Shelley’s leadership, the design team was able to propose to the Board of Education, seven completed “initiatives” that would provide the course of action to realize the District’s vision.”

John Deasy
Superintendent of Schools (former)
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

 

What do Users Think about 4 Critical Process Improvement Techniques?

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.07.58 PMA client once asked me, “How do you choose which process improvement techniques to use and in what order?” Let’s assume you have selected a project and written a charter.

Then there are 79-100+ techniques to choose from for the Discovery, Analysis and Redesign phase. And no one wants to use that many! For Discovery and Analysis I say there are four ‘must have’ techniques and then a few others that the team selects based on the goals. The four critical techniques are:

  • Swim lane documentation and analysis
  • Voice of the customer (I use a Customer Scorecard technique)
  • Gathering and analyzing quantitative data
  • Employee input on pain points or inefficiencies

I’ve used these techniques with over 100 teams and in public and private workshops with over 1000 participants. Let’s hear from these participants about how they think these tools work for them.

Swim lane documentation and analysis

  • “After putting together the process in our modeling tool, I was able to see where there were possible areas for improvement in the process. I was very surprised to learn how manual some of the processes are and how inefficient and time consuming it is to go through the process from start to finish.”
  • “Creating a detailed swim­lane map really helps clarify the process. We have been developing our process for several weeks now, but putting it on paper helped to flush out the order of events and who and what is involved at each stage. It is also helping us to better understand our touch points with our customers.”
  • “Processes that seemed too complex to model became more reasonable if I start with a single instance.”
  • “It is enlightening to a sponsor to see the process mapped out clearly.”

Voice of the customer (Using a Customer Scorecard technique)

  • “By placing the information from the customer scorecard on the swim lane map, I was able to see how the customer’s concerns closely align with the pain points.”
  • “It was very insightful to learn the customer’s point of view and what they would like to see improved with the process. For the 3 customers I interviewed, they all pretty much said the same thing about what they would like to see changed.”
  • “The interviews with customers in the customer scorecard provide a focus and a direction for the process improvement work.”

Gathering and analyzing quantitative data (namely baseline and diagnostic data)

  • “Baseline data is quite important owing to the fact that trying to solve the big problems straight away could lead us into analysis paralysis.”
  • “By measuring I realized that rework was a bigger issue than we initially thought. I also realized the incorrect info problem could be solved at the beginning of the process by getting accurate and complete info upfront.”
  • “The quantitative data was incredibly helpful in selling the model. It helped prove these “hard to believe” statements and also helped to create trust in the overall process model.”

 

Employee input on pain points or inefficiencies in the process

  • “While documenting the pain points, I learned that what one person thinks is critical may be of no importance to another. Getting input from different viewpoints is necessary for getting an accurate picture of areas of concern.”
  • “At the Process Owner’s staff meetings and I asked employees to provide me with their pain points for the process. The team was very engaged and members express enthusiasm for the exercise because it allowed them to physically engage and participate, instead of “sitting and talking about it.” It was also beneficial for me because it allows me to visualize the pain points instead of just taking notes from the team members.”

 

 

 

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5 comments to What do Users Think about 4 Critical Process Improvement Techniques?

  • Sheena

    Having all four makes ease for implementing a process improvement. When interviewing my costumers, I found that using the score card kept me focused and on track in gathering the important information I needed to improve the process. Being attentive to the pain points let’s me know there is plenty of room for improvement.

  • Mittu

    Using these 4 Critical Process Improvement Techniques, I was able to find multiple issues in pre-existing processes. I noticed that most of the time the main cause of issue seems to be the constant change in customer needs and miscommunication between stakeholders. How do we include these constant scope change in Automated BPM process? When the customer is internal, business takes their request for redesign as high priority. How do we categorize this practice? Isn’t this a pull back for a successful BPM process?

    • shelley

      Not all processes are automated BPM processes. The Process Owner needs to be aware of situations like this, pay attention to them, and act accordingly.

  • Aldo Jordan

    An experienced business process improvement facilitator will know what tools to use in order to deliver needed results. Many times the team is looking for a quick win phase, as means of introduction to the concept of business process improvement.

    Each process improvement technique although used for specific intent, their best results are provided when used in combination among them.

    From my experience it is also important to gather the voice of process owner or as they might have an specific tool in mind. It is up to the process facilitator to asses if such tool will provide adequate tools to discover and eventually improve the process.

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