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“I had a programming background and needed to see the bigger picture in the health care organization where I was working. Shelley's teaching was very good, she was approachable, and had a wealth of stories that I could benefit from.

I got really pumped up from the class. I realized that I needed to get more information up front to build improved processes. I had a new way of identifying roadblocks in processes and had methods to redesign processes to make them more effective. I saw that I had to take responsibility for influencing improvements vs. depending on others. In just three days after I got back to the office, I identified why an installation project had been floundering for several months, took action, and moved the project along!”

Debby Bearden,
Information Technology
St. John Health System


Isn’t There a Simpler Way to Model a Process?

Have you heard any of these comments when a team of subject matter experts meets to model the current process or a business analyst interviews subject matter experts to document the process?

Manager: “It seems like we have been mapping processes for 6 months. We have lot of maps but no improvements.”

Global employee: “We don’t do it that way. In our country we do the process differently.”

Team Member: “Well, what happens next depends. It depends on a, b, and c.”

Here are some tips and tricks to make this “As Is” mapping exercise go smoothly and enable you to finish in two hours or less with a team.

Assemble the right people in the room. The right people are subject matter experts (SME’s) who together know all the steps and decisions in the process. You should have designated these resources with the process owner when doing the charter. You may also want representative employees from different divisions so that you are not just capturing what Product X division does or Headquarters does.

Decide what flow chart symbols you will use and how you will capture them. I like to keep it as simple as possible. I use yellow stickies for steps and decisions and red or blue stickies for the actors in the swim lanes. If you decide to use Business Process Management Notation, I suggest the team create the swim lane model (also called a cross functional activity flow chart) on a large piece of white butcher paper 4 feet tall by 9 feet long and have a recorder capture the model in BPMN simultaneously using a laptop and your selected software.

Decide on a single instance to capture. Here is where most groups get caught up in their shorts. Without identifying a single instance to capture, they start out mapping the process and different team members want to explain and capture all the ways its happens. You end up with spaghetti! Instead pick a real example of the process that is finished that represents what normally happens – not the perfect process but one that has many problems, and one several team members know. Map that single process and stick to it. Later if you want to map additional instances you can go back and do As Is model # 2 and #3. Then it is easy to see where one instance differs from another.

Use a facilitator to run the session. The facilitator’s job is to capture what the team members say, record it on the stickies, and keep the process moving. His/her key question is “What happened next?” This keeps the team focused on the one instance they are capturing at this time. Don’t let team members tell you want could have happened, or what should have happened, or what happened in different locations. Stick to this one instance and finish it.

Concentrate on finishing the instance. Keep a parking lot of what I call the I-4 Lists (Issues, Improvement Ideas, Indicative Data, and Instance Differences). The facilitator captures comments from SME’s on these lists as they come up, but the purpose is not to make an extensive list. Just record them (as they are important) and move on and finish the instance.

These 5 tips will make you successful if you stick to them. Follow the structured process and it will go quickly and successfully.


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