Don't Stop with Diagramming the Current Process - Analyze It (part 2)


Which of these approvals do we need?  Could we reduce the number of approvals?  Are our policies or practices outmoded and has that caused us to keep approvals we no longer need?  Could we consult with actors ahead instead of making them approvers? How could we use electronic signatures to speed the process up? Example: We were able to eliminate several approvals in one company and drive decision making down to the lowest level – by setting clear criteria for when senior execs needed to review something, eliminating middle manager approval duplication, and reviewing or changing policy or practices.


Where is the rework?  It is often at decision diamonds/gateways and is shown by loop backs because the process has to repeat certain steps again.  Rework occurs with waste or re-entering data, or systems that don’t integrate and we build a shadow system (often excel) to get the data to integrate. Example:  I can’t tell you how often rework just goes away in a process when you get the right information in at the front of the process and share it widely.  One company decreased the process time for the sales compensation by  more than 50% by getting personnel information, goals and incentives right at the beginning of the process.

Manual Entry and Paper

Where could we automate to reduce the time spent on these tasks? Could we make information available on a system so employees and management could view it there instead?  Could we standardize templates so we consolidated the varied forms of the same task?  Example:  In the employee performance management system of one organization that paper copies of reviews could happen at 8 places, and yet sometimes managers did not have last year’s review.  Was it on a desktop, in a file at HR headquarters?


How many handoffs are there? (Count them and note them on the swim lane = current # of handoffs).  How much time is lost with each handoff? Actually the swim lane diagram does not show time.  We have to add a time line later to show time at each step and time in between steps.  But handoffs increase time, for sure.  What else may increase with more handoffs? Answer:  misunderstanding, errors.  Are there handoffs that are big opportunities for improvement?  Here is a place to gather some quantitative data.  Example:  The number of handoffs in the current hiring process in an organization was 34.  It was reduced to 8 in the new process. An additional benefit in the optimized process was that there was a single point of contact, the recruiter, for the hiring manager instead of 4 different Human Resource roles.

What to do next?

So there are plenty of ideas above about what you can do. Don’t just talk about them.  Gather specific quantitative data to prove the size of the problem. Record them in your Improvement Ideas i4Process list, and discuss which improvement ideas could be implemented now because they are that easy.  Often team members leave the process diagramming session saying, “I have that information you need already.  I just didn’t know it would help you and in what format.  I’ll start getting that to you this week.”  An immediate Quick Win! 

Want to learn more?  Sign up for my live-online BPMessentials workshop, Starting and Organizing a BPM Project (June 18 and19, 2013) and Analyzing and Optimizing BPM Processes (July 30 and 31, 2013)  Find out how to build high level maps with process owners and project leads, how to write a charter in 90 minutes, how to get the right members for a BPM team, how to document process models in the BPMN standard, using the free ITP software, how to use the 4 required techniques to analyze processes, and creative ways to build optimized processes

Shelley Sweet