In April, we wrapped up Perspective 2 on “The Customer”. We learned why the focus on the customer is important. In addition, we learned how to create customer journey maps from different perspectives. We concluded the perspective with special guest speaker, Julie Ingle Gatton who brought her passion, and knowledge to the subject. I hope you enjoyed everything you learned during Perspective 2.
Now it’s time to move on to Perspective 3, “The Process”. As a martial artist there are processes laid out, not only to learn the art, but to teach the art. There is a process on how to obtain the different belt levels. There is a process on how to obtain the designation of an instructor. There is also a process on how to teach the art once you have become an instructor. However, there are times where it is necessary to review those processes. I remember a time a few years ago when our master came to all of us, as instructors, to obtain some feedback on one particular process. The process was in reference to communicating expectations to the students to ensure not only the students, but the parents, were clear on expectations in the dojo and for testing. At the time, prior to every session, a packet was handed out with information about the class. However, we found sometimes those packets would get lost, or they were not looked. It was imperative that the students, and parents, understood the important guidelines and rules of the Dojo, and what is required for the students to be successful. We wanted to make sure everyone understood the rules of the Dojo, what it took to advance in the class. After some deliberation there was an opportunity found to verbally discuss the expectations before every session, to ensure all students heard them. It was quite interesting to see how behaviors changed once we implemented this additional touchpoint in our existing process. We found the reminders for returning students was beneficial, and the new students had a point of reference as they started on their martial arts journey.
All of us are part of processes in our day to day lives. All of the processes serve a purpose. Well one would hope anyway 😊. If it does not, that is a deeper conversation for a different post. 🤔
To quickly recap, we have taken time thus far to understand the organization (perspective 1) and the customer experience (perspective 2). It is now time to understand the processes that supports the organization and deliver services to the customer in hopes that we are producing the optimal customer experience. Understanding the full end to end processes, as well as, sub processes are critical. We touched a little on this in Perspective 1 when we discussed value stream mapping. Remember, value stream mapping is more focused on driving process change while process mapping demonstrates the flow of work through activities, decisions and tasks (to name a few components of the process). When I first started my speaking career, one of the main techniques I taught was “Systems Thinking”. The concept of Systems Thinking is that we all work in systems (not technology related) and it’s important to understand the whole system and not just the parts of the system. In my career I have found many times there is a focus on certain processes (parts) and not understanding how all the processes link together, or intertwine (the whole). Lack of understanding on the whole can result in potentially missing some important synergies, interdependencies, or interconnections within the processes that are critical for understanding. Not having the full understanding can result in decisions being made that do not take into account the upstream, or downstream impact of other processes that depend, or use that process.
I've talked about the word "process" quite a bit, and even mentioned some components of a process, but what exactly is the definition of a process? I'm so glad you asked!!! 😁. A process, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: “a series of actions or operations conducing to an end”(1). Now those series of actions could be actions such as: activities, tasks, or decisions. There are also events, inputs, outputs, suppliers, customers that all play into the process as well. We will discuss all of these components shortly in this blog post. However, before that, I want to make it clear, before I go any further, there are many different types of diagrams that can be leveraged to explain how services are delivered to customers, or to further understand internal, and potentially external, processes. Some examples are, activity diagrams, state diagrams, and value stream maps to name a few. Our focus for this blog post is strictly the business process map/flow. The other diagrams, I mentioned serve a different purpose than what I want to discuss here; however, we will be discussing some of those diagrams in later blog posts so stay tuned.
Now to jump right in, shall we? For this blog series on Perspective 3, we will be focusing on (1) the components of a business process, (2) how to create a process map/flow, and (3) how to analyze a process map
Let’s jump into Part 1: The Components of a Business Process
COMPONENTS OF A BUSINESS PROCESS
A business process can bring so much clarity, and insight into how internal processes occur within, and outside, of an organization. How the processes fit together starts to tell quite a compelling story. I like to compare it to a mystery novel. You know something "not so good" has happened, and now you are putting together the pieces to figure out how that "not so good thing" happened. Figuring out the mystery is a process in itself. Certain steps need to be taken in order to understand, and determine, what happened, or better yet, WHODUNIT???? 😆 We tend to have the same in organizations when we need to figure out how different parts of the organization work together to deliver value to the customer (the outcome of the story). As many individuals are visual, the process map/flow is a great tool to easily demonstrate how a process works.
As discussed earlier in this post a business process is made of many different parts. Each part serves a specific purpose. The parts I would like to highlight are as follows:
Process Name – the process name is a succinct and concise name that clearly describes the process being documented.
Process Scope – the scope of the process clearly articulates the purpose, and summary of the process. The scope clearly defines the start, and end, of the process and a high level overview of the purpose of the process.
Suppliers – the suppliers are those entities, or individuals, that provide what is worked on in the process under documentation. Suppliers can be internal or external partners.
Customers – customers are those individuals who are serviced through the process.
Roles/Systems – if leveraging swimlanes within the process map, each swimlane will represent a role or system. Even in flowcharts the activity steps can notate the systems leveraged and/or the roles. It's. important to understand who/what is doing the work.
Events – an occurrence that triggers an activity or tasks.
Input – also known as triggers, the input is what starts, or what should be true for the process to begin.
Activities – these are the steps, or actions of the process. Another way to think of it is the activities describe the workflow of the process.
Decisions – denotes if there are different paths a process can take. The decision could be something as a question with a simple “yes” or “no” path, but it could be more complicated based on the process. The decision could result in an alternate path that takes you down an alternate flow of the primary process and then reenters the primary flow of the process. Or it could be an exception path where the process can terminate due to the type of decision being made.
Outputs – deliverables or outcome of the process. It is the desired end state of the process map.
These are the main components I wanted to emphasis at this point. The main tip I would like to reiterate to make your life easier before you start process mapping is the importance of being clear in your process scope. It sets the right boundaries to document the process.
In the next post we will go deeper and discuss how to create a process map/flow.
Until Next Time, Signing Off
The BA Martial Artist 🥋
P.S. Please leave a comment 👈🏾 with your thoughts.
P.S.S. Seriously, leave a comment with your thoughts. 😁