How do we baseline our current process and understand the benefits of change?

I attended the MHCLG Roadshow in Bristol this week. One of the sessions I attended was one titled something like ‘How do we understand and baseline our current process so that we can measure the benefits of changes?’.

This is a common problem and fortunately is one that is easy to solve. Process Mapping using traditional tools does help you get an understanding of the flow of your processes but it does not help you understand the costs. You can use your process mapping to work out a complex calculation of the current costs but this is time consuming and subject to error. Any calculations are not connected to the process map so any amendments(and there are generally lots of these) have to be reflected back into the calculation.

In the Public Sector it is important in almost everything we do that we understand the benefits and I would argue it is essential part of helping you decide what changes you should be making to get best value for the publics pound. Fortunately this is easy when you use the right tools so lets have a look.

So how can we do it?

In order to understand the costs of you current process you must first understand what is going on in that process. For this you need just a few things

  • Permission and buy in to the process mapping from the process owners
  • A room to hold a workshop with screen and projector/TV
  • The process actors from across the entire value stream who can tell you how the process is done in each area

There are a number of things you can cover in these workshops but for this post we will address the elements that you need to do to achieve the outcome of baselining your current process and comparing this to proposed changes.

Lets have a look at a simple example of mapping a cup of tea round.

Process Mapping A Cup Of Tea

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Capture your Process Map

The first thing we need to do is to capture the end to end process in detail. Instead of just putting shapes on a map (or actually in a workshop post its on brown paper), we capture the map live in the workshop projected on the screen (also saving your analysts a lot of time). Instead of just capturing a few details about each step we are going to collect all the information live in the workshop as it is discussed.

If you want to have a look at why this is a good thing to do with real examples look at our recent blog ‘Act on the cause not the symptoms

With our software you can actually capture the data as its discussed and then use it to help you improve. Again there is so much data you can capture but we will focus on the main information to achieve the baseline. The software has been developed for over 15 years now as a workshop friendly tool designed to capture live in workshops. All the challenges with existing clunky process mapping tools have been addressed. You never draw a line the map builds itself. If you put something in the wrong place no problem drag it to the right place. If you need to insert something in the map just click there and start building or copy/paste it in.

Not only do you get better outcomes by using this modelling tool it also saves your analysts time in write ups and engages stakeholders more as the map they receive back is the same as they remember building.

The data you can capture against each step is as follows

  • Name – brief description of step
  • Type – step type like telephone, computer or automatic tasks
  • Description – full description of what is done
  • Roles – the role(s) that does the step
  • IT Systems – Other details like IT System that performs the step
  • Processing time – the time it takes a person to process this step
  • Break time – how long does a process wait before the task is done
  • Fixed costs – any fixed costs involved in the step like print or post
  • Value added indicator – either the step is customer value(green), business value(amber) or waste(red)
  • Highlight whether the step is a risk point
  • Add documents or links to work instructions
  • Add the inputs and outputs to the step
  • Remarks – capture all the challenges and improvement ideas identified in this step
Process Mapping

With the process actors in the room it is easy to understand and estimate both the wait time and the processing time for each step. Depending on how a step is and how confident the estimates were you may want to do some sampling to refine the numbers post workshop. As the conversation around the process is happening you can capture the description and any improvement ideas as well as any inputs or outputs.

As you look at each step you are also able to classify each step with whether it is

  1. Customer Value – the elements of a process a customer would ‘pay’ for
  2. Business Value – elements we need to do for the business value i.e. key into systems, gather info for reporting, legislative steps
  3. Waste – anything other than the above. This is what you are trying to remove

Any branches/decisions in the process you are also putting the percentages or numbers going down each branch.

Process mapping - or gates

Time to start to analyse

Analysis is a key part of traditional process mapping tools that is missing. BPNM or Visio process mapping gives you a visual representation of your process and nothing more. The conversations in the room will have given you lots and maybe you have kept notes but those notes aren’t held against the areas of the map they apply to they will just be notes. You may annotate the map with some but that is not the most help.

Because you have captured data against the steps you can now use that in a multitude of ways to help you identify areas in the process to improve. Data held within the system can be analysed and presented in many ways. In Visio if you want to