A Visio Alternative that makes Business Process Mapping easy

Before considering Visio alternatives it’s important to decide what you and your organisation are really looking for. In this article we look specifically at business process mapping, analysis and continuous improvement. MS Visio is often the most used tool in this space but is it really fit for purpose?

Visio alternatives, such as Skore, are actually specifically designed for working with Business Processes unlike Visio itself.  This can make your life easier, accelerate your project and elevate you and your team to the role of trusted advisor in no time at all. 

Visio Overview

Let’s start by taking a look at Microsoft Visio, a diagramming software designed for business use. Having been around for a number of years, and part of the generic Microsoft Office suite, it is available to users in businesses across the world.

One of Visio’s strengths is the large library of shapes and palettes that can be dragged and dropped onto the drawing canvas. For this reason it is incredibly flexible and can be used for an extremely wide range of different applications. That flexibility is also a drawback and the reason why there are so many Visio Alternatives.

One of its common uses, of course, is in Business Process Mapping. There are shapes available for basic flowcharting right through to the Business Process Modelling and Notation standard. This, is the disadvantage, the flexibility and range of shapes. One of the criticisms leveled against Visio is that it’s hard to create consistent processes and stay consistent across a team of analysts.

If it’s part of a larger programme, these processes need to be analysed. Although  you can include some extra data in Visio it is generally easier to create a spreadsheet to capture process related information. This creates problems as there are multiple documents and tools to manage in order to perform any sort of analysis which leads to further inconsistency. .

Finally, some feel that the diagrams produced by Visio are not visually pleasing, to be fair this is normally down to the user rather than Visio itself. However Microsoft Visio’s unstructured approach means that a process can be displayed in a disorganised or illogical fashion. As a result teams using Visio will often transcribe processes into something like Powerpoint or Word before presenting to a wider audience. This means that once again more tools are required and the data is duplicated and retyped each time risking misinterpretation and error.

Finding the right tool for Business Process Mapping

P2P Process in Skore
Skore Process Map

The first thing to consider when looking for a Visio alternative for business process mapping is what your process maps will be used for.

In the first instance we map processes for three key reasons; to align people on how the process does / should work, to identify opportunities for improvement and finally to understand the constraints the process must operate under. You can read more about these in our article (why we map processes).

Most of this can be achieved through collaborative process mapping workshops, whether they are face-to-face or run remotely over desktop sharing software. This is one key area where Visio falls down however and a Visio alternative would be required.

All but the most experienced and adept analysts will find it impossible to map a process straight into Visio while it is being described by a group. At the very least there would be long pauses and waiting while boxes were placed on the page and lines joined up. This wouldn’t be acceptable behaviour in what you would hope would be an engaging and participative workshop! Therefore typically Analysts run this sort of session using pen and paper.  Afterwards they write it up, essentially double handling the data, creating multiple versions and running the risk of misinterpreting it.

Skore has been designed to map processes at the speed of conversation in live process workshops without slowing down the thought process of participants. In fact many users of Skore find they can actually speed up this exercise with participants finding it highly engaging.

“This is the first time I’ve seen people across the business get excited about taking part in a process workshop. Especially when it’s related to ISO 9001” Andrew de Bere, Quality Assurance Director at SERT.

This incredibly user friendly way of mapping process gets even the most resistant team members involved quickly. What’s more, the processes can be shared with a wider audience without any training on how to read it. It’s intuitive enough that someone looking at it completely fresh will be able to follow it and there is only one version and one document to worry about. 

Need Business Process Analysis?

Once a process has been documented, or mapped, it’s typical for some analysis to be conducted. While many improvement opportunities may have been identified during the process capture phase an Analyst may look for more using various techniques. Common types of analysis include:

Handover analysis

One of the most common problems in business processes happens at the interfaces between different people and teams. Traditionally an Analyst uses a swimlane view of a process to highlight these handovers and this is something supported in Visio.

The swimlane places each actor in the process in a lane and the handovers between them become clear. However, the more complex a process, and the more actors there are, the harder it becomes to see these handover.

Skore has built in handover analysis that automatically highlights this. In addition, the role view will show an individual role, how often, and with whom they handover, providing a deeper insight into handover problems.

Time and cost analysis

Most analysts will move straight to a spreadsheet for capturing and analysing time and cost information in a process. While some basic information may be captured in the Visio diagram it cannot provide the necessary calculations to complete any analysis. Again multiple documents and tools would be required to support the process. 

Again, Visio alternatives, such as Skore, have this capability built directly into the process maps. This means you can map a process and attach time and cost information and create an instant analysis of your process.

Skore automatically creates dashboards based on time and cost information

Roles and responsibilities

Again swimlanes in Visio provide some clarity of roles and their expected activities but this too is limited. A common tool for analysing roles and responsibilities is RACI. Just like time and cost analysis this information would be added to another spreadsheet and analysed there.

Skore supports RACI (and other types of roles and responsibility models) directly against the process. This keeps all the data in one place in one software and makes it easier to update. Furthermore, the built in dashboards provide insights into roles and responsibilities that wouldn’t be possible in a standard spreadsheet. Skore can be used to really drill into different roles and how they fit within a process.

Requirements analysis

Requirements tend to be captured outside of a tool like Visio and therefore analysed elsewhere. So if you are looking to reduce the number of different tools you use for analysis work then Skore could well be a good fit.

Requirements can be captured directly against activities in Skore and then quickly and easily reported on. Furthermore, it’s possible to group requirements as you capture them. Perhaps you want to use a prioritisation technique such as Kano or MoSCow to determine the must have, should have and could have requirements . Again this is a simple task in Skore with the added benefit that the requirements can be further analysed by grouping or role.

Now with Skore Connect it is possible to push these requirements directly into Microsoft Azure DevOps as epics and user stories. This provides a clear line of sight between your business requirements and your development tasks. Developers can review tasks in DevOps and refer directly to the process models for context and to answer questions.

Looking for Continuous Business Process Improvement?

Another area where you may be looking for a Visio alternative is in continuous business process improvement. There are a whole range of techniques for this type of activity but central to its success is the humble process map. For effective continuous improvement programmes it’s essential for processes to be easy to read, easy to find and easy to review.

With Visio this tends to be done via email, stored in a shared drive or uploaded to Sharepoint. Unfortunately this runs the risk of duplication and making it hard to find. When using Skore as a Visio alternative you save processes in a central workspace and share securely with everyone.

Skore diagrams are easy to read and users can leave feedback comments directly on the diagrams so that others can respond and collaborate. This makes it perfect for collaboration across diverse teams and processes. You can also control access rights and always rollback to an earlier version if needed. 

Other Visio Alternatives

Of course to complete this article we should also note various other Visio alternatives. These, with the exception of BizAgi, are more similar to the general purpose nature of Visio.

  • Lucidchart – an online Visio alternative with a user friendly interface and subscription license model
  • Draw.io – a free and open source Visio alternative with both a web and desktop interface
  • yEd – a desktop application which more focus on business architecture type diagrams
  • BizAgi – a desktop application specifically built to support BPMN and interface with the BizAgi automation platform

Summary

Microsoft Visio is a useful general purpose diagramming tool that can be used in a variety of scenarios. However, if you need to focus on business process mapping and work as efficiently and effectively as possible then you need to look for a Visio alternative that meets your requirements. Going down the general purpose road will only lead to additional costs in time and money and ultimately frustration later on.

In this article we have highlighted how Skore makes a perfect Visio alternative when you have to map processes, engage the business and share and improve processes on an ongoing basis. If you’d like to learn more about Skore start your free trial here.

The benefits of process improvement software

There are, broadly, three different types of business process improvement software, each with their own pros and cons. Process mapping and analysis software, such as Skore, process measurement software and automation software. In this article we will explore of each of these as well as general purpose diagramming software.

By breaking process improvement software down into these groups we hope it will make it easier for you to understand the benefits of each type.

Process mapping and analysis software

For any process improvement initiative to take place it is essential for teams to clearly understand their processes. There’s no better way to do that than through creating process maps. Process maps allow you to visualise even the most complex of processes in order to understand how work flows. They help you clarify who is involved, when something must happen, what tools are required to do it and how.

Process maps give you a baseline for process improvement, a starting point that you can build on. The best way for you to create process maps is in live collaborative process workshops where you can quickly align everyone.

Check out our free guide to process mapping

Not only do they help get everyone on the same page but they also clearly highlight improvement opportunities. It is essential for any process improvement software to have some sort of process mapping embedded, or integrated, for it to be effective.

So what makes a good process improvement software in this category? Process improvement is a collaborative effort and should involve as many people as possible. That means any software you use needs to be easy to use and accessible to the widest audience.

There are many process mapping and analysis tools available but many are very technical, or designed specifically for business architects. This puts them out of reach of the average user and not ideally suited to a company wide process improvement effort.

process improvement software - easy to read process
An example of an easy to read process in Skore

Skore makes processes easy for everyone in a business, not just the analysts and architects. The simple process framework is easy to read and easy to follow. This process improvement software is used in live collaborative process workshops to capture processes maps and create instant analysis. Being web based, processes can be shared easily with anyone. The commenting feature allows all users to provide feedback and improvement suggestions.

Skore - process improvement software
Instantly identify improvements with analytics in Skore

If you’re looking for a complete solution for your process improvement software it’s worth looking at a process mapping and analysis tool that is easy to use, collaborative, web based and includes feedback and discussion features for capturing improvement ideas.

Start Your Free Trial of Skore

Process measurement software

This is a fairly niche but growing area for process improvement software. These tools tend to focus on presenting dashboards that show the performance of the process. This allows teams to be able to see the effect of their improvement efforts. If they make a change to a process they can see whether it improves performance or not.

The software will also support collaboration features allowing teams to discuss improvement ideas before implementing them.

The data used in these dashboards typically comes from a variety of different sources and systems. Many companies use a simple spreadsheet or a more sophisticated visual analytics tool such as Power BI. These tools don’t generally support collaboration features for teams to discuss and implement improvements.

Processes can be measured and improved over time

Often teams use visual management techniques with whiteboards displayed in prominent places around the office or shop floor. Using kanban, or similar, teams can see how work flows. Key tasks are pinned to the board and they move through various stages until completion.

There are many software platforms today that mimic the whiteboard and allow teams to collaborate remotely around this idea of a kanban type board.

If you’re looking for process improvement software and already have an easy and accessible process visualisation tool then it may be worth looking at process measurement software to help bolster your process improvement efforts.

Process automation software

Probably the most common type of software in this area is process automation. As a process improvement software, automation software can be extremely focused. Processes are easy to measure and easy to implement improvements.

Process automation is a huge area from large heavy weight business process management platforms through to low-code and even robotics. Process automation isn’t really process improvement software but it can be used very effectively.

Before processes can be automated, it is important to understand the process, what it should look like in the future and how it is going to be automated. That generally requires you to do some process mapping, analysis and design work. Some automation platforms include process mapping tools but these tend to be more technical and not for general use.

However, once the process has been designed and implemented in the automation tool, it becomes very easy to improve. A good automation software will include dashboards and allow easy changes to the workflow allowing you to target improvements very carefully.

If you are looking for process improvement software that is focused on automation then this is a good area to look at. Remember, you will still need an effective process mapping and analysis platform to get started.

Diagramming software

We have included general purpose diagramming software here because of their prevalence in this space. As has been mentioned many times, creating some sort of process visualisation is essential to process improvement work.

The most common diagramming software is Microsoft Visio and it’s a very good tool with many different applications. Most diagramming tools are clones of MS Visio, with either more flexibility or an improved user interface.

This flexibility is also part of their challenge. These tools are not focused purely on process mapping. They do provide lots of options but they are not optimised for this type of work. Using a general purpose tool requires additional expertise to do it well. Work to visualise processes will require the constant attention of a small number of dedicated individuals, rather than broad input from the whole team.

Process improvement projects should be collaborative and engage the widest number of people possible. So starting with a tool that inherently excludes large parts of your team is perhaps not the best approach.

If you are looking for process improvement software, and have a dedicated team that can focus purely on process mapping, then a general purpose tool may well be the best option.

What type of process improvement software is best for you

The important things to consider when looking for process improvement software is to ensure you have all the necessary bases covered. To do process improvement well you need:

  • Process mapping – the ability to visualise processes and get everyone aligned on how they work and what can be improved. You also need to create a baseline against which you can measure process improvement. A good process visualisation is one that is easy for the widest possible audience to understand and engage with.
  • Central repository – any work you do needs to be accessible to everyone and not cause any confusion. Having a single source of truth for your documents and processes that can be accessed from anywhere is a must.
  • Collaboration – process improvement is about collaboration and everyone contributing ideas and suggestions. Any process improvement software you select should have the ability to collaborate and leave suggestions and improvements.
  • Measurement – it’s important to measure processes so you can see how effective your improvements are. Most measurements will come from existing systems so consider how you can extract this information into a dedicated system or to your existing management information dashboards.

Like to learn more about Skore software? Check out How Skore Works to learn more.

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Looking for a RACI Alternative?

RACI is a great tool for analysing and understanding roles and responsibilities. But so often teams using it don’t find it as effective as it should be. If you’re looking for a RACI alternative then read on.

There are two main reasons why people seek out a RACI alternative and this article covers each of those below:

  • The terminology in RACI is vague and often leads to confusion. We will explore some of the RACI alternatives that try to resolve this – Jump to this section
  • Applying RACI is hard and can lead to large and complex documents that, let’s be honest, no one reads. This section looks at software tools, including Skore, that make this much easier – Jump to this section

Fixing the RACI terminology confusion – RACI Alternatives

One of the biggest challenges faced by anyone using RACI is confusion caused by the meanings of the acronym. As a reminder RACI stands for:

  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Consult
  • Inform

The idea is to assign different levels of responsibility to each person involved in a given work activity. This should clarify what is expected of each person when working on that activity.

However the problem arises when different people have different views on the meaning. For example, the difference between Responsible and Accountable.

Our View

We’ve written about RACI here and believe Responsible is the person that actually does the majority of the work. We think Accountable is the person who owns the output of the work. This might be the director, or process owner, for example.

However in many projects and organisations this view is the other way round. Or, to make things worse, for international organisations working in different languages, the difference between Responsible and Accountable does not translate very well. Which results in these two terms meaning the same thing.

There are many different models out there that attempt to address this. Our favourite is RATSI, which you can read more about here. Here is a list of different models that are used as a RACI alternative.

  • RATSI
  • RAPID
  • RASCI
  • DACI

There are many more, some of which can be found here.

We like RATSI because it takes the vagueness away from Responsible and Accountable. In RATSI, the R is still Responsible but this time it means the overall owner, rather than the doer. The doer is the T, or Task, and does the majority of the work. And A is for Authority, this person has the Authority to take go / no go decisions.

Tools for applying RACI – RACI Alternatives

Common Tools for RACI

Like any software tool, software for capturing, analysing and sharing RACI information should make our lives easier. The purpose of RACI is to clarify roles and responsibilities for everyone, so a software tool should help this. However, we often hear that the whole exercise has led to less clarity, rather than more, and ultimately frustration!

RACI charts are most commonly represented as a Matrix. You list roles along the x, or y, axis and then list key activities along the other axis. Where the two intersect you would record the responsibility level – R, A, C or I.

The idea is that for any given role you simply follow the row (or column!) for that role and it shows the varying levels of responsibility for each activity. Alternatively you may select an activity and look at the matrix to see who is involved.

Spreadsheets are perfect for this sort of grid and it’s not uncommon to see a RACI matrix produced in something like MS Excel or Google Sheets. Common Project Management software products also often have a RACI matrix capability. You may also find some drawing programmes, such as MS Visio, will also include templates for making a matrix, although these tend to be harder to manage and update when things change.

The main problems with common RACI tools

While creating a RACI matrix in something like Excel seems straightforward, it actually has a number of problems which lead people to search for a RACI alternative. We often hear stories where people put a lot of work into creating a matrix and then no one ever looks at it again. Alternatively the roles and responsibilities in the team remain unclear. 

The problem often comes from the fact that a matrix rarely exists without a process diagram of some kind. The activities represented in the matrix are generally part of a wider process, so an understanding of the process is essential.

However often we create the process as a separate document, and therefore reference it separately. Or it may be that the people don’t understand the process, which leads to ambiguous activities in the matrix. Worse still, if there are too many detailed activities it will lead to an enormous matrix which is too big to read.

A large and complex RACI Matrix in Excel

A different approach – Skore

Skore was originally designed to help facilitate process mapping workshops to capture processes at the speed of conversation. As a team describes a process a someone captures it directly into the software. Processes are mapped using a What box that describe What Happens and you can also capture Who Does It easily at the same time.

Want to learn more about process mapping? Check our process mapping guide here.

Every time the user assigns a role to an activity in Skore they can also assign a responsibility level, for example, the R, A, C and I of RACI. The benefit of this is that the team focuses on one activity at a time and agrees the responsibility level, all within the context of the process.

RACI Alternative - RACI tags on a process
Roles are tagged with RACI when added to an activity

While you map a process, Skore automatically creates role descriptions showing the activities of each role as well as the responsibility level. If you’re using a RACI alternative, Skore supports common models, such as RATSI and RAPID, and allows you to create your own custom model.

RACI Alternative - Role Descriptions
A simple role description showing RACI tags

A Readable Matrix

A simple RACI matrix is generated using the Reports tab and exported to a spreadsheet when required.

One of the main benefits is that you store a visualisation of the process alongside the RACI information, rather than having two separate documents. Furthermore, Skore links the information so updating the process means you are also updating the RACI information and vice versa.

Many companies use tools such as RACI for organisation design. This is where you are designing completely new processes, or running a complete transformation of existing processes. In this case RACI helps to design new roles in the organisation. Skore includes powerful analytics to help you determine whether you have the right balance of responsibilities across the team.

RACI alternative - visualisations
One of various visualisations that help with role design

It can even help you model scenarios to understand how many people you need to run the process, based on their responsibilities.

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Conclusion

While RACI is a powerful tool for helping teams to clarify roles and responsibilities it comes with a number of challenges. This often results in people looking for a RACI alternative. We recommend that you first evaluate the specific challenges you face and identify what is the true issue. For example, if its because you are suffering confusion and vagueness around the acronym then look to use an alternative such as RATSI.

However, if you are struggling with an overly complex matrix or a lack of understanding then maybe you need to re-evaluate the tools you are using in the first place. Consider Skore for a solution that combines the power of process mapping with RACI and analytics.

How To Run a Process Mapping Workshop

Learning how to run a process mapping workshop is one of the best ways to quickly capture, understand and improve processes. It brings people together, aligns them and provides a fantastic forum for generating new ideas. 

For any change or transformation programme, or even continuous improvement, workshops help introduce people to the change, make them feel part of it and brings them along on the journey. 

But if you’ve never run, or facilitated, a process mapping workshop before it may feel daunting. In this guide we explain how to run a process mapping workshop. 

Before you start

Choose your approach

Process Mapping workshops are brilliant for generating conversations and collaboration. But they shouldn’t be unstructured. You need to guide the conversation to ensure you get the desired outcome. 

For this you need a process framework or notation that is easy to use and guides the conversation. There are lots of approaches available that you can read about in our process mapping guide

We recommend keeping it simple while asking the important questions. What, why, how, who and when. This approach uses a box that describes the key steps and who does them, and a box that tells you when the activity starts and finishes. It’s straightforward, clear and very effective.

Practice with this before you start. By keeping it simple this type of process mapping will come naturally to you and your participants. 

Agree the title, scope and participants

Don’t try to do too much at once so that your process mapping workshops aren’t too long. Think carefully about which process you’re going to map, where does it start and end. This is your scope and will help you determine who needs to be involved. If necessary break a large process down into smaller pieces. 

Set the agenda and objectives

We have written about process mapping workshop agendas before. But at the very least you need to set the duration, objectives of the workshop and set time aside for introductions and wrap up. 

Share with your participants early and remind them before the workshop. 

Make sure everything is setup

There’s nothing worse than arriving for a process mapping workshop and waiting for the facilitator to set up the screen, flipcharts, handouts etc. Arrive early, or even the day before, and make sure everything is working and ready to go.

During the workshop 

Snacks and refreshments

Depending on how long your process mapping workshops are you should consider providing refreshments. Even providing water, tea and coffee can help participants to relax and show that you are considerate for their situation. They will be busy, and may not have time to take regular refreshment breaks so you are offering them a safe environment.

Snacks can also help but consider healthy snacks such as fruit, rather than sweets and chocolate. Snacks high in sugar can cause the team a short term high but then a deep low within an hour and this can be hard to work through. Sweets and chocolate should only be brought out toward the end of the session.

Introductions

Start your process mapping workshop with introductions, including personal introductions for any participants that are not familiar with each other. Restate the objectives to make sure everyone is aligned and in the right room!

Review the agenda and spend some time to explain the basics of the approach and how it’s going to work. We also recommend setting some ground rules such as; set phones to silent, one person talks at a time, what gets said in the room stays in the room and park unresolved discussions after 5 minutes. These are basic suggestions so you can add your own.

Follow the methodology

Now it’s time to start the work your process mapping workshop was intended for. Capture the process following your chosen methodology. We recommend our 5 step approach which you can download here.

Capture opportunities, issues and actions as you go

As soon as a group starts talking about their processes they will immediately identify issues in how they work and make suggestions for improving. Sometimes there will be unanswered questions or immediate quick wins the team can action. Try to capture these things as you go.

Use a flipchart or whiteboard to capture these issues, opportunities and actions so they can be written up afterward. Or, if you are using a product like Skore, to map your processes, you can capture these directly against the relevant steps in the process so that they can be reported on and shared later.

Wrap up and assign actions

Before you let anyone leave the room make sure you review all the actions and assign them. Agree a follow up so everyone can keep track of the actions and when they are completed, or the outcome of each one.

It is definitely worth reviewing the objectives of the workshop. Were they met, or will you need further sessions or research to close it off?

This workshop may be part of a wider piece of work so make sure you sign post participants to the plan and how this fits.

After

Share the content

At the end of a workshops participants will feel a sense of achievement. They will have had a chance to get things off their chests and discovered things about their colleagues they didn’t previously know.

But remember that you were there to capture and understand a process. So make sure you share the content with them along with any other information that was generated.

Many people need time to digest what was discussed so often come up with more ideas and feedback after the session. Make sure there is a way for them to feed that back into the work.

This could be by email, or if using a software such as Skore you can capture the feedback against the processes.

Keep participants up to date with progress

Where this workshop was part of a wider project it’s important to keep participants up to date on the progress of the project and how this work contributed. There will undoubtedly be time in the future when you will need to invite them to more workshops. So it’s essential that they feel their time was well spent and led to improvements.

Put what you’ve learned into action

Finally, you ran this workshop for a reason. Feedback what you’ve learned to the project team to ensure that opportunities can be acted upon and the benefits can be realised.

How to run a process mapping workshop

In this article you have learned to how to run a process mapping workshop successfully. The key steps should remain the same whenever you do this but the tools you use can make all the difference.

Skore has been designed specifically to be used in live process mapping workshops to map processes at the speed of conversation. This means you no longer need to write up notes after the workshop. You can map and share processes there and then.

What’s more, you can also capture all your risks, issues, ideas and other information against the process. You’ll have one place to store, manage and share the information. Skore will even provide instant insights through its built in analytics.

If you’d like to learn more about Skore sign up for a free trial here.

Need to Continue Remote Requirements Gathering and Analysis?

Read Skore’s guide on how to gather requirements, run workshops remotely and analyse key data online.

For any team embarking on a software change or implementation it’s essential to understand the requirements before you really get started. This key part to any project just got a whole lot harder as organisations are forced to make employees work from home. Fortunately it is totally possible to do this remotely. Our guide to remote requirements gathering will demonstrate exactly what you need to consider and how you can do it remotely. 

Firstly, consider that requirements can be gathered at different levels. Initial requirements will help early on when selecting technology. More in-depth requirements are required when it comes to configuring the system and training the team.

If you don’t understand and agree requirements all sorts of things can, and most likely will, go wrong with your project. Common problems include:

  • Project runs over time and costs a lot more than expected.
  • Users find that it doesn’t work the way they need it to. It doesn’t matter if the project is delivered late and over budget. When people aren’t using it then the whole investment is lost.

Interested in learning more about Systems Implementation Process Discovery? Why not sign up for one of our webinars here?

Incredibly, as important as requirements gathering is, many teams get this wrong. It’s hard work, and time consuming, and requires many people across the business to get involved. However don’t let this put you off as it will only cost you more in the long term. Here is a high level guide for how to capture requirements for your next software implementation and the best bit is you can do it all remotely. 

Skore Process Map
Example of Process Map in Skore

Capture the as-is processes

Have some idea of where you are right now to clearly explain to anyone impacted by the project how things are going to change for them. More importantly, everyone should have a common understanding of the existing problems so they know why things are going to change.

Quantify Module
Quantify your requirements

Capturing as-is processes helps identify hidden problems and other improvement opportunities. You should quantify these if possible. Look at manual processes that could be automated. Question how long do they take, what do they cost, and what’s the risk of making mistakes in a manual process?

Once you have the initial process, and improvement opportunities, you can start to create your wishlist of requirements. The process will give you a central framework onto which you can hang the requirements. Requirements can be written as statements that can be tested later on. For example:

“We should have the ability to automatically send an email when the client requests help so that we can be seen to respond quickly.”

Try to include why the requirement is needed, for example here it’s to quickly acknowledge the client after a request has been made.

You can add requirements easily to a Skore map
Populate your process map with your requirements

Finally, consider how important each requirement is. Is it a must have? Is it essential to continued business or could you live without it? Alternatively is it a nice-to-have requirement that would delight users but they wouldn’t notice it if it wasn’t possible? There are various frameworks available to help you categorise requirements such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MoSCoW_method and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kano_model

Prioritise the benefits

Use one of the above methods to help you prioritise the requirements. Make sure you are really clear about your must haves. Often teams list almost everything as a must have but this will only lengthen the project and the chances of it going wrong. Instead think of must haves as the things you need to have in order to do the work at least as well as you do today.

This means that at the very least you won’t have gone backwards after the implementation. Having more non-essential requirements gives you more flexibility when it comes to project length. If things take longer than expected you can drop the non-essential requirements!

Before Must Have Graph
Before requirements have been prioritised
After Must Have Graph
After prioritisation

Finally, question if the requirements be grouped into deliverables?  Consider whether part of the process can be implemented first, then the next and so on. This allows the project team to deliver smaller benefits more often and make the change easier.


Select the system

Once you have your initial list of requirements you have the information you need to select your software. In most cases there will be multiple vendors in the market all with their own speciality. Run a first pass market scan and create a shortlist of vendors.

Contact your shortlist and ask for a demo based on your requirements. You can provide a list of requirements from Skore by simply creating an attachment report and filter it by requirements. A key aspect here is that the vendors will often have worked in many businesses similar to yours so they may well bring new perspectives and ideas to help you.

You may need to ask for a small trial, or proof of concept, to demonstrate how the solution will work with your processes. Especially if you have a unique requirement, or something that needs more than the usual customisation.

Design the future state

Once you have selected a vendor consider how your processes are going to change and the impact that may have on teams. The best approach here is to run workshops with the same stakeholders as before. But this time you have the benefits of the new system articulated and you should invite the vendor along.

The vendor’s system will have best practices built in, and often it’s better for you to adopt these than to try and adapt them to how you used to work. At other points in the process you may have very specific requirements that need a lot of configuration. The vendor is going to need as much information as possible here. To make the implementation as smooth as possible work as closely as you can with the vendor and share all the processes.

The other important piece here is that, for some members of the team, what they do can change considerably. Use your new processes to understand which roles in the business are going to be impacted and how. Who will need training, how will their roles change, do you need any new skills? You should be able to answer, and act, on these using your future state processes.

Configure and test the system

At this point the technical team can get on with the technical implementation and configuration. Again ensure they have access to all the processes, requirements and any other related information. If done well this should provide them with all the information they need but make sure someone from the business is available to answer any additional questions. If not, the technical team will be forced to make decisions that could impact the success of your project.

Use the processes to run test scenarios through the new system before it goes live. Can a user complete key steps in the process, are you seeing the expected outcomes at the end of each process?

Train the team

Finally, once the system is ready, it’s time to train the team. Compare the original ‘as-is’ processes with the new future state ‘to-be’ processes. This tells you how things are going to change and helps to explain to the team.

Well designed processes should be easy to read and follow so can make excellent training and reference material. Let the team have access to these to help them in the early days and to train new team members in the coming months.

Skore Portal Processes
Keep Processes as a Training Resource

Conclusion

Software implementation projects will almost always turn out to be more complicated and take longer than anticipated. However, you can set yourself up for success if you invest enough time in understanding the real problems in the business and the real needs. A little more time spent up front will save a lot more later on.

But one thing to remember, a software implementation is not finished at the end of the project. We now live in an ever changing world and the business is constantly in a state of change. Processes will change from day to day, if you’re not keeping an eye on how it changes and what that means for you new system you might find that months later it’s no longer fit for purpose. Keep your processes regularly up to date and use this to keep your software at the cutting edge.

Skore software is an online process mapping and analysis platform. Use Skore to remotely run workshops, gather information and share insights online. Don’t give up on your project deadlines – use Skore for an online enhanced process discovery experience.

Sign up for one of our free webinars on how to run system implementations process discovery remotely here

6 Top Tips to running online Process Workshops

You can still collaborate, engage and share information effectively with your colleagues and clients. You just need a few tips and the right tools to run an online process workshop.

The next few months will be difficult for any business as we adjust to remote working and changes in business practices. Part of this big challenge will most definitely be getting used to getting the most out of ourselves and our peers while not physically being in the same space. At Skore we’re used to working remotely and our software has been designed to get the best out of any workshop while working online. You don’t need to abandon important process discovery workshops but rather take advantage of the latest technologies available to us all.  In these difficult times we’d like to share with you our top tips and resources on how to get the best out of a collaborative online process workshop. (https://www.getskore.com/my-top-3-tips-for-awesome-digital-discovery-workshops/

If you want to brush up on your process mapping skills – check out our guide here (https://www.getskore.com/process-mapping-guide/

So here are our top tips to help you. 

1 – Desktop Sharing Software

One of the most important steps here is getting a good desktop sharing software that you are familiar with and comfortable using. While we’re not recommending specific software, you can check out some popular systems here. The two important things to consider here is the quality of the audio / visual during the call and how easy you find it to use the software.

During the session you want to keep people focused on the process being mapped so it is essential to avoid distractions such as poor audio, or waiting for the facilitator / mapper to share the screen. If you’re familiar with using Skype, or Zoom for example, then this is probably a good option for you.

2 – Smaller Regular Workshops

Running workshops online is a different dynamic than when in the same room. People tend to be more focused for a shorter period as they concentrate on the screen rather than the normal social interaction experienced when physically together. It’s also harder to keep larger numbers of people engaged when you’re trying to facilitate the workshop, map the process and manage the online meeting.

We recommend running more, but shorter, workshops with fewer people. 3 to 4 people is probably ideal with sessions between 1 and 2 hours long. If you need to run several workshops with the same people, ensure there are good breaks between sessions. Not only do you want to give people breaks from the process but also give them a chance to catch up on emails and other comms. This helps prevent distractions during the session.

3 – Use Video

As you cannot be in the same room it’s still important to keep an eye on levels of engagement. When everyone is in the same room it’s easy to see who is dominating the workshop and who you need to engage with to make sure you get a good balance.

If you use video through your desktop sharing session you can also keep an eye on who is talking and who needs to be brought into the conversation. It’s not always possible to distinguish between people purely based on the sound of their voice.

Ideally you will have two screens, one on which you can see the participants videos and one where you will be mapping the process.

4 – Essential Pre-Workshop Preparation

With shorter sessions and fewer participants it’s essential that you plan carefully to make sure you can start quickly and have exactly the right people in the room. With face-to-face workshops you often have the luxury of spending time exploring the scope of the process and understanding whether you have the right people in the room.

With online process workshops we highly recommend that you are completely clear on the scope of the process and you have exactly the right people on the call. Our process workshop template will guide you through capturing and agreeing the information for each process you are capturing, download it here.

5 – 5 Steps To The Perfect Process

Once you start the workshop, mapping a process in Skore is no different. Make sure you follow the 5 steps to the perfect process. This approach helps you control the flow of the discussion and allows you to map at the speed of conversation.

6 – Provide Access To Processes

Finally, at the end of the session provide access to the process for all the participants. With shorter, more focused, sessions it’s likely participants will have more feedback afterward. Make sure they have access to the processes and show them how to leave feedback and comments.

The key to excellent online process workshops

Follow these simple steps and you are already on your way to running an awesome online process workshop. If you still have questions – why not sign up for one of our Free webinars currently running on how to deliver online process discovery workshops. Or if you need some expert assistance Skore are now offering their services to remotely facilitate for you at an extremely competitive hourly rate. If you have any question on the contents of this blog or just would like to chat to an expert – get in touch at [email protected] .

How this logistics company slashed 9 weeks off each project with Skore.

Skore software enabled a logistics company to remove 9 weeks of process discovery off each project within a systems implementation initiative. Find out how Skore did it and the best way to organise your systems implementation project. 

In mid 2019 a well known UK based logistics company, with circa 6,000 employees, were in the early stages of a major HR systems transformation. This ambitious systems implementation project would completely replace systems across the full hire-to-retire employee lifecycle over the coming months.

In preparation the programme team were advised to plan 4 weeks to map and document processes for each individual project. However, due to a backlog of process projects, there was a 6 week wait. This made it 10 weeks before they could expect delivery of the necessary documentation. Unfortunately this date was 2 weeks after the proposed delivery for the first phase of the programme.

The programme team utilised Skore software to run the process discovery work. The team using the software captured As-Is processes, understood the future state changes and identified where these processes integrated with other parts of the business. The initial As-Is discovery was completed in 2 days followed by another 2 days to define integration points and agree the To-Be state. The original 10 week plan estimate reduced to 4 days. 

Skore is commonly used by change management teams to rapidly discover and make sense of business processes. Used in live workshops teams come together to collaborate, share information and make important decisions right there and then. Here’s how it works:

Saved Process Discovery Time 

Unlike most traditional approaches to process mapping, Skore captures processes live in a workshop. The simple, yet highly structured, process framework guides participants in the workshop by asking clear focused questions about the process such as; what happens, who does it and why.

In this case the project team quickly sketched out the complete end-to-end employee lifecycle in a simple diagram. Then taking each of these key steps they again listed out all the key processes in each area. From here they could drill down into each one and define the processes.

High level view of Skore Process map showing end to end employee lifecycle

High level view of the end-to-end employee lifecycle

This meant that the whole team could constantly keep track of what they completed, what needed to be done and, most importantly, how each process related to the others. Most importantly it was at the click of a button.

Capturing the processes straight into the software means there was no need to write up the processes based on sticky notes and photos. Participants could agree and finalise the process there and then. 

One place to get all the information

 As the team mapped the process there were inevitable conversations regarding things they needed and ways they could improve. Traditionally these can slow down a process workshop. However Skore allows a variety of additional information to be captured against the process. For example requirements and improvement ideas.

Inputting requirements and improvement ideas into skore

Ideas, requirements and questions were mapped directly against the relevant step in the process. They were then available to report on, providing a log of requirements and ideas all in one place. If there were changes to the process, the corresponding requirement was visible and the impact understood straight away.

Furthermore as a web based product, it was very easy to securely share the content captured in Skore with colleagues. Not only could they access processes, they could leave comments and feedback in order to facilitate further improvements efficiently.

Instant insights accelerated decision making

Given the time pressure to get the new systems in, the team were focused on the most important requirements while still trying to understand as much as possible. Using the Custom Fields in Skore to capture requirements they then grouped them by Must Have, Should Have and Nice to Have. This allowed them to quickly get a sense of how these balanced out across the process. 

Before

Skore Custom Fields Analysis

After

Skore Custom Fields Analysis

At first it was clear that there were too many Must Have requirements and the team reviewed these and recategorised in order to get a better balance and more focus on the deliverable. Skore software provided insights to accelerate decision making. 

Capitalised on process awareness

Once the process and requirements had been captured and understood the configuration of the system was initiated with a high degree of confidence and well on time. Furthermore the process models captured in Skore, as described by the Subject Matter Experts, were then used to train the teams using the system. This became an extremely valuable reference material. Additionally it was also a way for the core users to feedback improvement ideas to the project team following go live.

Vital in an Systems Implementation Project

Skore software dramatically reduced project times for this logistics company. The value however not only lay in the impressive 9 weeks per individual project saved but also the sustainability of the process discovery work. Creating an easy to update, read and use record of HR processes ensured that the company was able to continuously align its people and processes for the future. The systems implementation project completed successfully and with the tools for continuous improvement.

Skore’s Software platform allows you to align your people, processes and tools seamlessly. Engage, collaborate and share – the easy way.

Changing Change within the NHS

This month we are featuring Laura Copas, Co-Founder and Change Architect, from Get Real Change. Get Real Change is a Skore partner and uses the Skore software platform to facilitate and accelerate change in projects across industries. Read Laura’s blog below to learn how they succeed in change and acceptance and find out how you can master these essential skills. 

Change is changing. We know that we can only achieve sustainable results through people not just developing new capabilities, but also through the shifting of mindsets, behaviours and interactions. Yet still more often than not its structures, systems and processes that are the main focus in change rather than people. And despite all of the evidence that tells us otherwise, the traditional delivery approach of ‘tell and sell’ to gain ‘buy in’ rather than meaningful engagement still becomes the go to.  

In this blog we will explore why this happens, and what a different approach involves. Alongside this blog we recommend reading the case study of our work with Mental Health Services where taking the people focused approach had life changing results for Children, Young People and their Families in South West London here

The Performance Paradox

The diagram below is a familiar picture and drives this traditional change paradigm. 

Performance Paradox
Diagram showing the Performance Paradox

We’ve all been there. Things aren’t going well and in fact they feel like they’re getting worse. We’re worried about results, we’re worried about reputation, and we’re even more worried because the situation is complex, messy and without a clear solution. At this point control activities tend to kick in as we are under increasing pressure to provide assurance and show results. Initial positive feelings of productivity and confidence rise as increased analysis, planning and reporting takes place. 

However, the problem is that the more time that is spent on these control activities, the less time there is to spend on engagement activities. So when it comes to delivering on those plans, people ‘resist,’ and change happens slowly or not at all. Performance worsens and we go around the loop again resulting in the hierarchy being used more and more to ‘tell and sell’ the change as time to deliver runs out.

The People Approach 

Fear is the worst motivator for change. At best the speed of execution of existing approaches is increased but at worst is a burnt-out workforce who no longer trust you. In todays world where no single leader holds all of the answers, organisations are dependent on the creativity, innovation and collaboration across the workforce. Unlocking these skills and effecting lasting change requires fostering psychological safety and gaining commitment (rather than compliance) through meaningful engagement. 

Taking a people approach and meaningfully engaging means creating space for teams to come together to explore, and to collectively make sense of the current situation. It involves those people who will ultimately need to change their ways of working being involved throughout the cycle to co-create the change. It requires leaders becoming dealers of hope, co-creating an exciting vision for the future and taking time to tend to peoples concerns.  It involves experimentation, shared learning and celebrating successes. It requires patience and starting small and so much more!

At Get Real Change we are passionate about change and helping individuals and organisations to break out of the performance trap. If you’re excited to learn more about creating energy, excitement and commitment for change then we run a number of open workshops where we work with you to build those skills. We have a number of workshops coming up soon which can be found at our website: https://www.getrealchange.co.uk/workshops. We’d love to see you there


How Skore Saved 80 Days Waste During a System Implementation Project

Want to know how Skore not only saved 80 days of Waste but also delivered a sustainable successful solution for a system implementation to the end customer?

At the beginning of any Systems Implementation Project, mapping a process is an essential step. It ensures the right requirements are identified and delivered to the users. It should also drive the right business outcomes. 

However there are also additional benefits derived from taking the time to capture processes. Skore Software was able to identify and remove an additional 80 days of waste in a customer system implementation project and in this blog we will show you exactly how.

Incredibly in this case the business case had long been agreed, contracts signed and the project underway. Yet Skore was still able to identify further benefits for the end customer that would not have been recognised otherwise.

Building the superior solution

The consultants ran a 2 hour Skore process mapping workshop with the core team of users and the business owner. 

Using Skore they quickly identified the key areas of work. They broke those down into more detail, capturing the steps they each performed. At the same time they used attachments against activities to record any documents, templates and other systems they used.

As they mapped out the processes they also made a note of any challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis and additional requirements. For example they identified a compliance requirement that had to be tracked. Although not part of the original business case, in Skore it could be easily added to the process map and documented. From this they were able to add it to the system and it was a significant improvement on their current way of working.

What box with detailed note
Ideas, challenges and questions are captured as notes

Finally the consultants made a note of how long each activity took and how often they did it each day. Durations ranged from 5 seconds to an hour per activity. Once multiplied up by the number of times each activity happened per day it was a significant amount of time.

What box with Quantify Questionnaire
Duration and direct costs are captured against each activity.

With this information the solution team could then look at how the system laid over the existing business processes. The consultants sketched out a configuration for the compliance requirement and defined which modules needed to be configured and how.

Bringing the Solution together

Quantify Module Report
Skore then creates reports of your costs and duration for easy analysis

Finally the consultants looked at which activities would be automated by the new system. Based on the information gathered in the workshop it was here that they identified an additional 80 days of savings on top of what they had already agreed. Through Skore they discovered a new set of activities that could be automated that wasn’t in the original set of requirements. The simple Skore approach had helped the customer articulate a whole set of activities not originally included and not previously recognised as an automation opportunity.

Delivering the solution effectively

Essentially using Skore ensured that the end customer was clear on their current ways of working BEFORE the implementation. Achieved through the workshop described, everyone together had their chance to dispute the process and amend it accordingly. Collaborating and engaging with the process and each other from the start. 

Furthermore with the process agreed, at the end of the workshop it was shared online and tweaked where needed in the following days.

Supporting the solution – Embedding into the organisation

Once implemented and trained the processes were made available to the team for reference. Queries about how something worked could be referred to in the process before calls were made for assistance. If a support call was made, the support team would use the same process as the user to identify where the issue occurred and explain the solution.

Skore’s straightforward language and framework meant it was possible for anyone in the organization to read and understand the process. The processes were delivered through an interactive online portal and users could leave feedback and improvement suggestions at any time.

So this is how you effectively capture requirements, delight users, align the team and save 80 days of waste in a system implementation project. Best of all, it was achieved in a single 2 hour workshop. Imagine what you could achieve in your own organisation with the Skore Platform?

If you haven’t tried Skore – why not sign up for a free trial?


What is RACI?

Heard the acronym but still unsure as to what is RACI? Read Skore’s guide to the RACI responsibility matrix and what it should be used for.

How to use a RACI Matrix 

In this article we will outline exactly what is a RACI matrix and how to use it. 

Let’s start at the beginning:

RACI is an abbreviation of a style of matrix used to define who is responsible for what in an organisation. It allows people to attribute steps of a process (for example) to a certain job role. More than that though, it also allows you to define exactly what that job role participation should be. To make it even clearer we should explain what the letters R.A.C.I stand for:

  • Responsible – the person responsible for doing the work – they must complete the work or task
  • Accountable – this person is ultimately responsible for making sure the work is delivered but won’t be involved in the actual task itself. 
  • Consulted – A person that needs to be spoken to and potentially provides information regarding the work you are doing. They are not required to deliver the work. 
  • Informed – A person that needs to know about and kept up to date with the work. They will be affected by the result of the work achieved. 

Need to learn more about Process Mapping? Read our guide here

When do we use RACI?

RACI can be used for a number of reasons. Here is a list of the most popular:

  • Change Management Programmes – before implementing any change you need to understand who is responsible for what and who will be affected by your initiatives. This is especially relevant if those who are responsible or accountable will be changing roles.
  • Re-organisations or restructures – use RACI to comprehend the processes in your organisation and the people touched by them . To understand the roles required for the future to inform training and recruitment.
  • Project Management – Assigning responsibilities for key steps in the project plan
  • Audit – Provides clarity of roles and responsibilities – this is important to demonstrate compliance. A company with a clear RACI matrix will be able to ensure the right roles are performing the work in line with regulations. 
RACI What Box in Skore
An example of a Skore What box populated with RACI information

Using RACI effectively means that you are able to:

Become aware of everyone involved in a project or process

If you’ve done your job right you should have a list of all the people or the roles (e.g. Sales Manager) involved and their responsibilities. You know who should be doing what. In fact everyone should know who is doing what and RACI can encourage greater collaboration between teams. 

Provide analysis

If you take the next step and invest in good software or a template you should be able to produce some really insightful data and analysis about your organisation, how it works, duplications, handovers between role and the seniority level required when recruiting for a role.

Allows you to communicate effectively

You can see exactly who needs to know what and that is vital to any project success

Enables you to understand the workload across members of the team.

You will be able to see who has too much to do and whether those tasks can be assigned to other people with a lighter action list. 

Continuous improvement

Generally speaking RACI helps teams to avoid reinventing the wheel and generates a starting point when teams are beginning a new project. A clear RACI matrix cuts out the time needed to define who does what and key contacts – something that often takes time and effort at the beginning of every new piece of work. 

Job Descriptions

Using RACI means you are automatically creating job descriptions for each role involved. If this is done right you have an instant picture of who does what and an immediate brief to help you recruit the right people for the role. 

Skore Raci Role Description
Roles Description using RACI from the Skore Software Platform

RACI however can actually lead to further confusion if its not used correctly or people are unclear about the terminology.  There is often a lack of clarity around the difference between Responsible and Accountable. If you don’t get the difference, go back and get your head around it because its key.  

There can be a tendency to over engineer with RACI – its vital to keep everything as simple as possible. 

Have you thought about using another style of Responsibility Matrix – try our blog article – forget RACI analysis, RATSI makes it clearer!

Version control

Like any documentation you make – its an instant snapshot of your organisation and will be probably be out of date in a short time. Make sure you manage who controls the RACI matrix and updates it. Alternatively get a piece of software like Skore thats instantly updated and shared to all relevant parties. 

Over engineering

Teams have a tendency to add everyone they can think of on the RACI which can become counter productive. You only need to flag core roles or its going to become confusing and complicated. 

Strategy alignment

Make sure your RACI is linked to your organisation’s capability matrix and development plan. 

Find out how Skore can help you map a RACI matrix (or any type of Responsibilty Matrix) in your organisation effortlessly. Click here for a free trial of Skore