As a business process enthusiast and advocate for Lean Office Improvement which by the way, I believe is an opportunity available to any and all business professional's, here is a quick look at how to "map" a process you recognize has room for, well improvement!
First identify a process you want to improve; for example the process you take for processing incoming email messages.
1. Start by documenting each of the activities that occur when the process is underway.
2. Use this information to create a macro map*
3. Gather data about the process such as how many steps or how much or time do you invest in the process, how often does the process take place?
4. Create an "as is flowchart" of the process*.
*Macro maps depict the major steps in a process; limit them to between 5 and 7 whereas when you create the "as is" flowchart, you will dive a bit deeper and depict activity in more detail. From there, dive deeper still, adding details about each step in the process and each of the activities performed.
Congratulations, you've just created what is known as a current state map. Tune in for the next post and learn how to examine the map and begin to identify improvement opportunities.
In most organizations (or in your own personal workflow) you may have noticed more than several problematic areas; processes or systems which are ripe for lean process improvement. The challenge is how do you decide which process to target first?
One approach is by creating a selection matrix in which you rate each process according to criteria which you pre-establish. The criteria might include how much time it would take to change a process, how much money may be involved, how many people are affected, o,r how problematic the problem is for you, your team or customers.
An easy way to do this is create a 6 column table in Word or Pages , or scratch one out on a piece of old fashioned scrap paper. List your criteria in column 1 ( on the far left side of the table) with a scale of 1 to 5 across the top of the 5 additional columns. Determine the scale value, i.e., will the number 5 represent the highest score and the number 1 represent the lowest?
Next; rate each respective criteria (using the 1-5 scale) and see where the scoring "leads" you. Hopefully in a direction that narrows which process you want to tackle for improvement first.
Other tips for prioritizing might include:
o Selecting processes that will generate the most benefit for the least amount of monetary investment
o Identifying which process are most critical to you or your team's ability to contribute to the organization
o Asking team members, customers or external stakeholders for their point of view
o Concentrating on processes that have the greatest impact on the customer
o Targeting processes that result in costly problems such as failure to meet the customers need, high-cost or long cycle times
o Identifying process based on internal challenges such as a problematic process which is causing unnecessary conflict among team members
o Choosing a small but scalable process with high "visible" impact for the team or organization.
Bottom line, "everything is a process and every process can be improved".
Let us know where this exercise takes you; post what process you plan to tackle at https://www.facebook.com/Simplicatelife