Process Refinement and Optimization

by David Samoranski on June 16th, 2010

I want to take a moment to talk about process improvement. I believe this is a key aspect of helping customers deliver their outcomes. I was recently engaged with a customer to improve a financial process and would like to share an overview of my approach.

What do I mean by refining and optimizing business processes? Well first, let’s address the difference between refinement, optimization, and reengineering. Business process reengineering is usually a radical, top-down, high risk approach to revolutionize a customer’s process. Refinement and optimization takes an incremental, bottom-up, continuous improvement approach towards a process. My current focus is on using Microsoft Office technology to remove steps, automate activities, or speed transitions in the process.

My Approach:

  1. Document the current process
    1. Model the roles, activities, and decision points
    2. Calculate cycle and work time
  2. Analyze the current process
    1. Define the pain or challenges
    2. Standardize metrics for performance
  3. Design the future process
    1. Focus on key improvement areas
    2. Perform gap analysis
  4. Identify the solutions
    1. Map tools/capabilities to process challenges
    2. Propose solutions to realize the future state
  5. Prioritize the solutions
    1. Compare business value and complexity
    2. Determine best approach

A large number of problems usually result from using the right tool in the wrong way or using the wrong tool altogether for a given process. Solutions should focus on quick wins that consist of small adjustments to the current process to deliver the most value with the least complexity. Using the right tools and using them in the right way can help reduce wasted time, missed deadlines, unnecessary steps and labor, manual work, rework, and inefficient communications. Make sure you choose pain that can be measured. A compelling vision will only resonate with stakeholders if you can back it up with metrics to communicate the impact. Take the time to develop a business case and adoption plan for the changes you are proposing in your solutions.

From → Business

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