Process Analysis and Redesign
Despite new emerging technology tools, we typically perform our work “the way we have always done it.” Unfortunately, these cherished work methods are typically based on archaic manual systems or on non–integrated legacy information systems. Attempts to improve or “automate” work often follows these same legacy work methods.
Process analysis can help elucidate and improve your work processes to achieve significant gains in productivity and efficiency. It may also help us reengineer our business processes to achieve even more dramatic results.
Business activities are typically organized around functional work areas. Consequently, we can view our organizations as a series of specialized vertical organizational structures, each responsible and optimized for a defined set of functions. All work is based upon these sets of vertical compartments. For example, in higher education, distinct functional units are responsible for the functions of recruitment, admissions, financial aid, registration, billing, etc.
Real work occurs through our business processes. A process is a series of interrelated work activities performed in a pre-defined series designed to produce a product or service. Processes are independent of an organization’s functional boundaries. Although it is possible that all steps in a process may be contained within one functional area, nearly all value-added processes are cross-functional, spanning the white spaces between the boxes on an organization chart.
These white spaces, where handoffs occur between functional units, are typically the places process delays and disconnects (things that go wrong in a process) occur, even though each individual functional unit may be performing efficiently and effectively.
A cross-functional process view of work, as opposed to a functional view of work, can uncover these disconnects and enable their correction. For example, when attempting to improve the procurement process, we would not merely examine the functional activity of the purchasing department, but would analyze the entire end-to-end process of procurement. This involves engaging the clerical staff and manager initiating a purchase request, the approver, the buyer, central receiving, accounts receivable, auditors, etc.
Process Mapping is an important tool for determining how a process works, from start to finish, focusing on the flow of work and people through departmental (functional) work areas and the value each successive step in the process adds to the final product or service. Our approach to process mapping involves:
- building a process mapping team,
- creating consensus on the existing process terms and activities,
- identifying process disconnects,
- designing an environment that facilitates creative solutions to address the disconnects, and,
- improving or reengineering the process.
Our experienced process analysis facilitators can lead you to discover and analyze your existing work processes, identify disconnects and their potential resolution, and design a better process. The results of process mapping provides an effective tool to either improve or reinvent your business processes.