Exercise: Process Analysis
Analyse every step of at least two main processes (usually, procurement to pay and lead generation to delivery) and see the main difficulties staff deal with when they are working.
- Draw each step of the process with the process owners. Define interfaces and any other variable.
- Ask the person in charge of each step how they received the task and how they deliver it to the next step. Ask them if the information they have is good enough, how decision-making criteria is defined and what procedures they have for performing the task.
- For a powerful visual picture, draw the steps on a large sheet of paper (a roll of brown wrapping paper is ideal) and write the comments and observations from the staff.
- Is likely that you’ll find some of the following problems:
- Poor communication or poor information reliability
- Lack of criteria for activities or decisions
- Lack of standards, norms or procedures
- Lack of alignment of the different steps
- Mistakes or poor information
- Bottlenecks, blocks or lack of line balancing
- Responsibilities not defined (or not assumed)
- Lack of necessary filters
- Simple and easy automatisation opportunities.
- Lack of control when mistakes are made
- Changes not communicated
From this exercise an action plan to make the process leaner and cleaner should be elaborated. Just make sure that the plan has specific actions with the person responsible and compliance date defined, and that you set meetings to follow it up.
On a bigger scale, sometimes it is better to re-engineer a process fully or partially. In that case a different approach should be adopted. One option is to create a working group with staff from all the areas involved in the process and start from the first step. Re-engineering is not rocket science as some consultants pretend it is, but it is hard and detailed work.