Welcome back to our series exploring continuous improvement and business process review. In our first post, we introduced the concepts and benefits of reviewing your processes and of considering how to do things better. In this post, we'll look at the first step you need to take when you look at any business process - identifying who owns it, who uses it and what they all think. I love a good process review, so what are we waiting for? Let's get started!
Let's start by going back to what a business process is. Put simply, a process is any series or set of actions that take you from one starting point to a different end point. Processes are usually repeated, which means they're ripe for improvement. The vast majority of processes are linked with the core functions of your business. So, if you're in retail, most of your processes will be related to selling products to customers. If you're a university, your processes will focus on your students and staff and the work they do.
Now, that's a long way of saying that the bulk of your processes are really about people. And that's were all process review should start - with the people who affect (deliver) or are affected by (use) that process. As your first step, think about:
Who owns the process: the person or people who are responsible for making it happen
Who delivers the process: the person or people who actually make it happen
Whose work is affected by the process: other employees in your organisation
Who uses the process: your customers or clients.
Once you've made a note of the all the different individuals and groups that fall under these categories, map them against how they connect with the process. This will enable you to create a table of interested parties and their interactions, which you can use to guide your approach.
For your review to be successful, you need to understand the experiences of all the people involved and how well those experiences meet their needs and expectations. Use the table you've just created to shape your communications. For example, you'll want detailed conversations with process owners and those who are involved on a day-to-day basis to capture each step and understand why it happens. For other employees, you'll need to find out how this process interacts with theirs, so you know the impact any changes might have. And for customers or clients, an online survey might give you the information you need to get started, with the option to go into more detail at a later stage.
To save this all becoming a bit too abstract, we thought we'd work through an example of a fairly basic process - event booking - as we move through each part of this series. Taking this example, the main people we'd want to speak to would be:
The event manager and event administrator
Speakers and presenters
Marketing and procurement colleagues (depending on your organisation's size and structure)
And to gather relevant information, we'd:
Sit down with the event manager and event administrator to plot each step
Ask other colleagues how the event booking process interacts with their processes
Gather feedback from event attendees, speakers and presenters about their experiences.
And that's all you need to do to get the business process review started! Check back in for our next post to guide you through the stage two – mapping your processes –where things can start to get a bit tricky. But don't panic - we're here to help!