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How to map your Procure to Pay Process.

Understanding how to map your Procure to pay (P2P) process can seem somewhat daunting at first. Of course the steps already exist in your organisation, but being able to get it all down in one place can seem a difficult task. 

In this guide we will share with you some of the basic stages you should consider and the reasons why it is so important to have a clear understanding of your process. Our how to map the Procure to Pay process will outline the steps and we’ll even throw in a free Procure to Pay template to help you get started. Just read on to find out more.

What is the Procure to Pay Process?

Procure to pay is the end to end process from selecting and ordering from a supplier to receiving goods/services and making payments. Historically P2P, also known as Purchase to Pay, was a manual process involving numerous parties, different requirements and countless pieces of paper. Whilst the numerous stages remain, many organisations are taking great steps to automate the Procure to Pay process. Why is this so key? As a vital component of any business, an efficient P2P process results in a healthy financial outlook, competitive strength and not to mention a honourable reputation. 

You can break the P2P process down into different sections and there are different interpretations of this. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how many stages you have as long as you’ve included the fundamentals. In this blog we group them into four main categories – to keep it simple. 

When you start to examine how your business runs its purchasing process you really need to consider the following aspects:

Want to learn more about Process Mapping? Read our definitive guide here.

Selection and Sourcing 

Before you even start raising purchase orders you need to detail the system in place to identify company needs. Plus how you find and select suppliers.

  • Who do you need to speak to in the company?
  • What are your criteria for selection?
  • Do you have existing relationships with suppliers and who manages them? 

Once suppliers are selected:

  • What contractual agreements are in place?
  • Who manages these relationships?

In addition this also our first glimpse into compliance requirements in the P2P process. It’s vital to get this right from the Selection and Sourcing stages. 

Purchasing and Ordering

Once you have selected a supplier and signed the relevant agreements consider how you raise your purchase orders. It can be a very simple process, but historical and manual involvement means that it is often convoluted, confusing and wastes time. This is often due to a delay in getting sign off or a lack of clarity around your company rules and policy.  Mapping out your P2P processes is a great opportunity to see the steps involved here and whether there is room for improvement.

  • Think about how you create a requisition?
  • Who decides how much money you will spend?
  • How do you get approval from the budget owner and who enters the details into your computer system so a purchase order can be raised?
  • Once a PO has been generated how do you send it off to the supplier ready to order your goods or services?

Receiving Goods and Services 

Next, your services or goods should arrive.

  • Whose responsibility is it to check on the quality of the goods/services?
  • How do you define if they are up to the standard you were expecting?
  • Have they arrived in a timely fashion?
  • Are there any credit notes or faulty items to return?
  • How has your purchasing experience measured up so far?
  • Most importantly who is responsible in your organisation for each part of this stage?

Remember these are the types of questions you should be asking your organisation as you work through the process. Consider what tools you use in your organisation to measure these questions. Make sure you document them as you capture the P2P Process. 

Invoices and Expenses 

Finally as soon as the goods/services are delivered the payment part of the process is in motion. Invoices will be raised and entered into your accounts system. Goods or services delivered are crossed off and compared to what was ordered. Payments are made and accounts settled. You want this to run smoothly, paying suppliers promptly and without mistakes of course makes for a smooth supply chain. Once again, consider who does what at these different stages:

  • What different departments are involved in releasing payments?
  • Have you also thought about the different methods of payment your business uses to pay back suppliers?

You also need to compare how much you forecast to spend at the requisition stage and check how much the actual amount is in the invoice. This is key to managing the company’s cash flow. This is another clear example of how learning how to map your P2P process will help with the financial management of your business and keep it healthy too. 

At this stage you can also include details of how you deal with internal expenses.

  • How do you pay back your employees?
  • How do you keep copies of receipts and proof of payment?
  • What do you ask to see and who needs to sign these off before payment can be made?

Expenses payments are a vital part of the P2P payment process. 

Risks in not having a well thought out P2P process

As highlighted in this article, the Procure to Pay process is fundamental to an effective business. Making sure you know how to map out the P2P process is key.  Not taking the time to clearly outline the process can result in many issues for any organisation including:

Slowing productivity

Customer satisfaction decreased because you couldn’t hire the temporary staff quick enough to satisfy demand? Products removed from your stock because you couldn’t get hold of the goods you needed to make them? All this relates back to your Purchase to Pay process. If you can’t get that right, your business can’t work quick enough. 

Hidden Costs

Do you really know how much you are spending on your suppliers vs the value it brings the organisation? Are you able to access this information at a touch of a button? A lack of clarity from your business means that you may not be able to track the flow of money around your organisation easily. 

Compliance

A purchase to pay process that has not been clearly mapped means it’s easy to fall into the trap of making mistakes or not adhering to regulations. If your organisation was audited tomorrow – could you relax knowing that everyone in your business understands the rules and regulations and has been following them?

Communications

Traditional approaches meant that P2P had a paper trail. How many lost purchase orders or requisitions entered incorrectly have you experienced? Do you truly know how many people are involved in the P2P process? Do they all understand the steps and requirements? If there was an issue with payment tomorrow – do you know who to speak to about it?

Reputation

Supplier disputes, late payments? All headaches you clearly don’t need. They aren’t great for your reputation, suppliers need paying and all of this can be avoided if you have a system in place that works well. You may not even be aware of the issues your suppliers and staff are experiencing until you take the time to map out the Procure to Pay process. 

Successful P2P leads to Successful Organisations 

When you look at the breakdown of the Procure to Pay Process, you begin to understand why it is such an integral part of any organisation. The delivery of goods and services are a component of every department. The success and smooth running of any P2P process is key to an efficient and profitable business. 

Yet we still see hesitation. For many the task itself seems overwhelming. P2P affects every part of your business and at Skore we see that some people just don’t know where to start. By mapping out your process you are opening up that discussion. You are discovering your key people in this process, learning about the limitations and uncovering where your bottlenecks are. 

A clearly defined Procure to Pay process means that:

  • You have better control of your business. 
  • The lines of communication are open within departments and everyone understands their roles. 
  • Efficient sourcing and payments will make your company more competitive in the marketplace and of course improves reputation.
  • More opportunities to uncover hidden costs and potentially save money
  • Saves time approving suppliers and creating orders
  • Safeguards your company from compliance and risk issues. 

And these are just some of the initial benefits.  As more companies move towards automation in the Procure to Pay process, the opportunities to reduce errors and streamline the process become even greater. 

How to map your Procure to Pay process – Free Template. 

At Skore we understand that for some it means just taking the first steps towards a healthy P2P process. That’s why we have made our Procure to Pay Process template available and free to use. Skore’s Process Improvement Software platform was designed to be used by everyone in the organisation. That means there are no complicated shapes or terminology to learn and from the moment you start mapping the software will begin to build your analytics dashboard to help you understand where the costs, risks and opportunities are in your business. 

The Procure to Pay process template will help you look at a standardised way of managing the process. It’s up to you to customise or change it to your own business requirements.

If you have a Skore workspace you can add it for free or you can always sign up for a free trial and try out the process template for yourself.

No Pains No Gains? Asking the painful questions in Change & Transformation

When working on any change, or transformation, programme we’re all familiar with the activity of gathering and documenting the pain points through Process Mapping from across the business. We understand the value of this. 

However how much time have you spent thinking about how and, perhaps more importantly, when you capture them?

Of course talking about, and recording, pain points is useful for many reasons. It helps to focus in on where the issues are and how the issues are perceived. It brings a human perspective, giving participants a stake in the change and feeling like they’ve been listened to.

Starting your Process Workshops

However, the timing and the approach you use can have a significant impact on the overall programme. In a recent webinar, on ERP Implementation, one of the consultants highlighted the challenge of starting off process discovery interviews by asking about pain points.

“In times of change people can become suspicious, especially when an outside consultant has been brought in. We found that when we started asking about what was wrong with the current ways of working some people would become very defensive and close up.”

Another challenge with asking about pain points, in isolation, is that they tend to be subjective. Admittedly to some extent that’s OK, because you want to see how people feel. However consider that it also means that it’s much harder to size and prioritise a problem. Remember that, different people may articulate the same problems in very different ways, making your task of deciphering them way more complex.  

Getting the right Pain Points in Process Mapping

Daniel Kahneman, in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, describes the concept of ‘Substitution’. This is where you are asked a complex question but in the interests of answering quickly your intuition substitutes the complex question with a simpler one that has an immediate answer.

To put it into context, imagine you are asked: ‘what are the pains you experience in your job.’. There are probably many. Each have varying degrees of importance and impact to both you and / or the business. However, trying to first remember and then assess each of these is a complex exercise. 

Therefore you are likely to substitute this question in your mind with something easier to answer such as “what was the last pain you suffered in the course of doing your job?”. You then list the pains and importance by the order in which you remember them. It seems logical that the most important pain is the one that springs immediately to mind but actually as Kahneman points out, this is likely to be an incorrect assumption.

Want to learn more about Processes – read our Ultimate Guide to Process Mapping here

Using As Is Process Mapping as a Solution

You could consider instead running an As-Is process mapping workshop. This gives people the chance to first talk about how things actually work today. One of the most important benefits of running a live workshop is that people align on how they believe the process works. Very often people involved in a process have a different view of how it works. Therefore the problems or pains will be approached with a different set of assumptions.

This activity allows the individuals to think more objectively about the process and its problems. It will remind them of issues that hadn’t immediately come to mind and help them re-evaluate other pains in context. The participants  synthesise and analyse the shared knowledge in order to come up with a more accurate picture of the pain points.

Consider when to talk about Pain Points

The next time you are planning process discovery sessions for a change or transformation programme consider when you will raise the pain points. The key to success isn’t just recognising that that pain exists at the end of the day, it’s putting it in the right context. After all, a pain point by itself is nothing, the learning it brings is where the magic happens. 

Skore is the Process Improvement Software Platform that enables everyone to understand their processes. Our simple two shape systems means process mapping and management is even easier than ever before. Try for yourself with a free 14 day trial.

How to Map Processes

Introduction

In our How to Map Processes blog we teach you how to quickly create powerful process diagrams that will help you to align your workforce understand your company’s constraints and identify vital improvement opportunities. What’s even better is that everything we show you in this how to map processes guide can be done with paper and pens. Why not have a go and see how simple it is? If you find it useful then consider using a software like Skore.  We built Skore specifically to make process mapping easier, faster and more fun for everyone in the organisation.

Why do we process map in the first place?

Business process mapping is used extensively across larger businesses throughout the world and more and more in small to medium sized businesses. Why? Well process mapping helps people make sense of patterns of work that involve different people and different tools. Generally you’ll see process mapping in projects such as introducing new software to a business, reducing costs, saving time, improving quality and creating a better customer experience.

However, with advances in technology and changes to how people create and consume products and services, now even the smallest businesses are complex. Therefore even the smallest business needs to clearly understand its most important and valuable processes and learn how to map processes. Even more importantly they should also have the opportunity to understand and access process mapping tools, just like any large organisation.

In the following how to map processes guide we’ll show you a simple, yet incredibly powerful, approach to process mapping that anyone can do no matter how large or small your business is. What’s more, if you’re scaling up a business, the sooner you and your team start learning this valuable skill the faster you’ll be on your way to success. 

Step 1 – Title and Scope

First things first, before you start any process mapping you must agree the title and scope of the process you are about to map. The title is generally the easy bit, what is the process that we are going to map? e.g.Sales Process, Marketing Process, or something even more specific like the Expenses Process. Whatever you decide, make sure you clearly indicate what the process is.

The slightly harder but very important part, is the Scope. By defining a Scope we are setting the boundaries for what we want to map. This helps to focus everyone and prevent the team talking about other areas that are not relevant… or ‘Out of Scope’.

To define the scope you need to think about what triggers this process to start in the first place and what is the final output of the process. The start and end points.

A pro tip here, you CANNOT simply write Start and End easy as that would be. This won’t tell you anything about the process and means it’s harder to stop people talking about areas out of scope.

Let’s look at an example 

Let’s take the Sales Process. It’s different for different companies but here the sales process starts when a new lead has been generated. So the trigger (Start) may be as simple as “New Lead”.

Remember, it’s not unusual to have multiple inputs, or triggers, to start a process. For example, leads may come from different sources so your inputs could be; “New Phone Lead”, “New Email Lead” and “New Web Form Lead”. This is especially useful if you manage them in different ways in the process. A New Phone Lead will probably start with a telephone conversation, where as an Email Lead may require you to arrange a call first.

The end of the process should deliver some sort of value, either to the customer or to the next process in the business. A good way to think about defining this final output is to think about what you would need to see in order to know, categorically, that the process was finished. So, if we continue with our  Sales Process example we may expect this to only finish once an order has been placed. In which case the final output would be “Order Placed”, or “Signed Contract”. Just like the start point, there may well be multiple end points. Don’t worry about this. We know that not all leads will convert into sales so an alternative end point might be “No Sale” or “Sale Abandoned”. 

These could be important outputs to know if in the future you want to investigate how you handle these leads. It will help you to understand how to map the process as well

Most importantly, don’t overthink it. It’s better to put something that looks roughly correct to start with you can always change it as you map out more of the process.

Step 2 – What happens? The key steps in your process map

Now it’s time to start mapping out the main steps of the process. The key activities, or tasks, that make up the process. These steps describe the work that actually happens whether it’s done by a human or a machine.

Pro tip – Always describe the steps of a process using Verb + Noun. They are activities so they should be described as actions, you are doing something to something. Some simple examples include:

  • Create lead
  • Register opportunity
  • Raise invoice
  • Submit purchase request

These all start with a verb. Following this simple rule makes it much easier for anyone to read and understand the process afterward.

Then as you map out a new process call out all the activities you can think of and add them as boxes. Often people use sticky notes if doing this on a whiteboard. If you are using Skore these are called What Boxes because they describe what happens.

When working in a group, throw up all the activities people can think of and sort them into the correct order.

You may end up with lots and lots of boxes on the page and that’s OK. Just go with it. You will quickly find that some steps are details which sit underneath others. Here you have a choice.; Either put all the detailed boxes into the process and create something that is very large and potentially difficult to read. Or you may group detailed steps together and create separate processes for them. In Skore you can create sub-processes easily that link to your high level process. 

Want to learn more about process mapping styles and approaches? Read our guide here.

Step 3 – Why? / So That? The reason for doing the work

This may be one of the harder steps to master but is also the most valuable.

The purpose here is to think about the value that each step brings to the overall process. Every activity should deliver something,  either physical, data, or a change of state. 

This step helps you challenge thinking such as “we’ve always done it that way”. It helps people consider steps and suggest improvements.  For example if these outputs form the handover from one person to another it helps everyone agree what that handover looks like.

Start working through each activity from the previous step and ask one or more of the following questions:

  • Why do we do this activity?
  • What do we have at the end of it?
  • How do we know when it’s finished?
  • What could we measure to ensure it has been completed?
  • What do we need to start the next activity?

The output of each activity  should become the input to the next. Once you have been through all the activities and added all the outputs the order of the steps will become even clearer. You may need to rearrange them to make sure.

Skore Example Why and What box
Image taken from the Skore platform

Pro tip. Try to avoid using the past tense of the activity as your output. This is simply repeating the activity and adds little value to the diagram. If you really cannot think of a good output you can leave it blank, it’s telling you something about the step and might need more work to understand why there is no clear output. A really important part of understanding how to map a process is being clear about each step, input and output.

Step 4 – Who does it? The person that makes sure it happens

Now you should have a clear process with all the steps and outputs defined and in the correct order. The next step is to define who, or what, is doing each activity.

It’s recommended that you use roles or job titles to describe who does each step rather than individual’s names. This is because personnel may change or you may have multiple people working in the same role.

By this stage you will probably notice that you are repeating or iterating through the process. This is, in fact, deliberate. Every time you do this you’ll realise that someone will probably notice something missing or inaccurate. This part of process mapping means that your process becomes clearer and more accurate over time. 

Step 5 – What else? Any additional information you need to capture.

Finally you get to this stage and it seems like the end is in sight. It is, but before you finish remember why you started this in the first place. It is vital to understand what the issues are and the opportunities to improve it. What you must make sure you do is capture these and you’ve probably been discussing them all the way through. 

The trick here is to make a note of this information and make clear which part of the process it relates to. The simplest way is to annotate the process. You need to know how you will record this, it can quickly get messy and difficult to read. In Skore you can attach all these notes against the process in a clear and simple format. This allows you to capture information and report on them easily. 

Notes made against a Skore What Box
Image taken from a Skore Process Map

You also may want to reference other related information such as tools, documents, policies, templates and anything that’s relevant. Again annotate the process in your agreed format or use Skore to capture the relationship.

At last your process is complete. Remember however, that a process is a living and breathing thing and should be kept up to date as you make changes and improvements. The better documented the process the easier it will be to share with colleagues and get their feedback, thoughts and ideas.

How to map processes- which process do I start with?

So now you know how to map a process the question is which process do you start with? If you’re a growing business looking to build discipline around your processes so that you can scale effectively we recommend looking at our free Business on a Page template. This one page exercise helps you identify key processes and discuss which ones to start with. Once downloaded you can get going with your new found mapping skills.

And Finally

Remember – whatever anyone may tell you – you only need a pen and piece of paper to map out a simple process. You don’t need to be an expert in BPMN or a master of a drawing software tool. Anyone can learn how to map a process easily. Take back control and learn to how to map a process in your organisation, its a vital skill you won’t regret learning.

Skore is the Process Mapping and Improvement Software designed to be used and understood by everyone in any organisation. You can sign up for a free, no obligation trial here and start process mapping today.

Using the Business on a Page in App Advisory Software Projects

What is the Business on a Page – describing your business activities. 

A Business on a Page is a tool used extensively by users of Skore and similar business process and architecture software products. It’s a way to describe the key activities of a business all on one single page.

In its simplest form it allows business owners, directors and managers to have focused conversations about the business. This could be because things are not working as expected or they need to be improved. Often problems are misunderstood or span multiple areas in a business. The Business on a Page helps managers understand where the impact is on business activities. 

Mostly it forms the basis, or framework, for how all the different processes in a business fit together. It’s easy to read and allows the user to drill down into the component parts when they need more information.

For growing businesses it’s a fantastic tool for an owner or CEO to clarify who is responsible for what. Once they have this clarity they can start to organise business processes according to who owns them. This becomes the foundation for developing scalable processes essential to the success of any ambitious business.

The Business on a Page can be used as the starting point for many different types of project including:

  • Process improvement
  • New software implementation
  • Evaluate compliance to standards and regulations
  • Assess readiness to sell
  • Prepare for investment

Why use the Business on a Page in an App Advisory project?

As an app advisor you’re not just there to select apps for your client. You also need to make sure they are the right apps to help your client grow their business. Often you’re introducing an app to help a client solve a problem they have in their business. This could be preventing them from growing in the way they want.

The biggest challenges you face in this task is really understanding the client’s problem enough to provide the right solution. To further complicate this task your client probably doesn’t know how to articulate this problem themselves. They will certainly feel the symptoms of the problem and describe those clearly but the actual problem that causes these can be well hidden.

What’s more, even when you do eventually uncover the root cause of the problem it can be surprisingly difficult to explain this to the client. They may well have trouble accepting something they hadn’t previously considered.

Describe Business Activities with the Skore Business on a Page Template
Skore’s Business on a Page Template

Helping you with a simple framework.

The Business on a Page helps you in several ways. It provides a simple framework which you can use with the client as the basis for discussing the problem. A clear diagram that describes business activities. You can point to it when describing how a problem in one area is causing an issue elsewhere. If the conversation is difficult, using the framework of the business on a page helps clients to discuss issues impartially and without emotion. 

It also helps the client and their team organise their thoughts and group different issues based on where they happen in the business. Ultimately you’ll be trying to understand where money and the data flow in the business. Then you can show how different apps are going to make their life easier. The Business on a Page allows you to agree with the client which processes need to be captured and where in the business they are.

Finally, you may be looking to help the client uncover and solve other problems in the business beyond their immediate app requirements. Again the Business on a Page gives you the necessary overview of the business to discuss and agree with the client.

Need guidance on advising clients or identifying and implementing the right apps? Read our How To guide to App Advisory here.

How does it work?

The Business on a Page approach is best used in the first meeting you have with the client. Use it to help you organise your understanding of the client’s business as well as agreeing some key terminology with them. It will tell you which parts of the business you’ll need to look at in more detail and who you will need to work with to do so.

Start by sketching out the key activities performed by the business. You can use our Business on a Page template to get started and provide examples of those activities. Capture all the key activities including Marketing, Sales, Delivery, Support as well as the supporting activities such as Finance, HR and IT.

Next, identify who owns each of these areas and write this down against the activities. It’s best to do this with the client and members of their team so that everyone is in agreement. This will make it easier when you need to refer back to it later on.

Once you’ve captured these activities you can start to talk about the areas of the business you want to focus on. If you’re starting with Cloud Accounting then you’ll definitely be looking at the finance area. But you’ll also want to know about invoicing, where does that happen, is it the finance team that looks after this, or is it done in Sales?

Are you looking at a time tracking system to help billing? Then you’ll need to look at the Delivery section where projects get delivered to clients. Do expenses get captured here too? Where else does money get spent or collected? The Business on a Page will help you discuss that with the client team and agree where you need to look next for the extra detail. It will help you identify which processes you need to map and in which areas.

How to download our template

You can download our free template here to help you describe the business activities and get started today. Alternatively the interactive Business on a Page module is also available through our software platform. You can sign up for a free trial here and experience how easy it is to describe business activities online, gain instant analytics to share with clients and keep a permanent, easily updateable record of the business.

Skore's Business on a Page for describing activities
The interactive Business on a Page available on our Skore platform.

Barriers to Growth: The Owners Control Dilemma – How to Delegate

Introduction

For a business owner, the daily challenges faced don’t get any easier. Maybe they are frustrated by a team not stepping up to take responsibility. Fed up with problem solving that they really don’t have time for. Or despairing of critical projects not delivered unless they are personally involved. Many business owners have ambitions to grow but are slowed down by these obstacles. The answer may be that they need to learn how to delegate.

Whether you are a business owner or advisor, many organisations experience these problems. In this blog we delve into some of the reasons why this happens and provide not only a few tips but also tangible tools to solve your delegation issues.

The problem

Like any thorny issue in a business setting there’s always more than one point of view. Either the owner doesn’t know how to delegate properly and is struggling with a lack of control or they feel they’ve hired the wrong people. The reality is that actually it often comes down to a lack of clarity between what the owner and the team think is expected of them. 

Let’s look at this rationally, most employees want to do the right thing and follow direction. However, if they haven’t been presented with the correct boundaries or direction then how do they know what to do? As a business grows and leaders become busier they will delegate more tasks as needed. This haphazard approach however won’t work as tasks become bigger and more complex. If a business owner hasn’t figured out how to delegate by this stage then the team will lack authority in making the decisions they need to do.

How to delegate?

Learning how to delegate is easier said than done. Letting go of certain tasks is always going to be a struggle but first ensure there is clear direction and objectives for the business. It needn’t be complicated, owners should be able to describe their vision easily to everyone and have some measurables attached. A good example would be to double revenue every year by doing something better than all your competitors. Another might be to become the most trusted in your area among a certain demographic by a certain date. The clearer the business makes this, the easier it will be to measure progress and communicate to the team. 

The next step is to think about how to organise or architect the business to achieve the objective. Consider what the major components are and how they fit together. This isnt as daunting as it first seems. Most components are standard across businesses and include things such as Marketing, Sales, Delivery, Production, Finance etc. If a business owner isn’t sure where to start then we recommend our free Business on a Page template which includes the most common areas. It’s a great place to start and effective in engaging team members, especially those that will be the next level of management.

Once the components are defined it’s time to note down who is responsible for each area. This is often when the truth dawns for many business owners. In our experience many of them find themselves responsible for most, if not all, of the components. In this case, the Business on a Page exercise has really served its purpose. Business leaders can now start asking themselves questions such as:

  • Which of these areas they need to focus on to improve their new business objectives?
  • Where are they spending too much time where others could help?
  • Who has the best skills and experience to own the different components?
  • How does work in one component flow to the next?

As a result of this exercise, owners are not just asking staff to do things in different areas. They are giving them the responsibility to decide how things get done. This is a great first step but for many relinquishing that control doesn’t always happen that easily. Learning how to delegate takes a mind shift as well as practical application. 

team mapping process in skore

What if they don’t do it the right way? Or the way you want them to do it?

Business owners should be encouraged by being reminded of the original objectives for the business. Remember to measure objectives for each component to ensure that it is delivering in ways an owner would expect. If team members deliver on the measures defined by the leader, does the leader really need to be involved in the detail?

As a countermeasure we would always suggest that business owners have a view of what is working well in each area and where each member needs help. The best way to achieve this is to ask each member of the team to map out their own high level business processes. This not only clarifies the way they do things but also ensures that everyone in the team can see how they fit in with each other. It brings engagement and collaboration to the organisation, a win win for any business. 

This combination of the Business on a Page, the measures and high level processes is the architecture of a business and they can use it at regular status meetings. It becomes a common language where the team can clearly articulate problems they face and makes it easier for owners to help them.

Skore's Business on a Page Template
The Business on a Page Template

How the Business on a Page works.

If you’d like an online version of the Business On A Page Template, you can take a look at how it works here.

The Business on a Page template is a blank template that provides some of the most common activities commonly found across different businesses. Use those provided or specify your own components relevant to your business. The examples are exactly that, examples to help you find the right wording for individual activities.

There are two types of activities on the template, those that describe the work done to make money, such as marketing and sales. Then the activities that support these such as Finance, HR and IT.

There’s no limit to how many boxes are available but try to keep them all on one page. Its interesting to also fill in the template for how the business looks today and then create another one for where the business will be in the future. This helps when trying to prioritise what to do next. 

With the boxes defined, add the owners to each box. As mentioned above it’s better to do this with the team and encourage them to suggest which boxes they own, or think they should own.

Once the owners for each box are agreed, discuss how each will be measured and write this alongside each box. Remember that it’s unlikely you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. Revisit and tweak this over several weeks but in the meantime the whole team has a common framework in which to discuss the business, any problems and how to overcome them.

Finally, the team needs to start looking at processes. Check out our process mapping guide here as a good place to start. If you want to capture your processes and share them digitally, along with the business on a page then of course we highly recommend Skore, our process improvement platform that’s designed to be easy to use by everyone in the business. 

Skore is the process improvement platform designed to be used by everyone in your business. Map processes, gain insights instantly and share with everyone. Craig Willis is the CEO and Co-Founder of Skore.

App Advisor – Your How To Guide to Getting Started

In this How To guide we share our tips and tricks through a simple series of steps to follow. 

Plus you can download our Free Template to help you get started with Cloud Software Advisory today.

We’ll show you how to identify and implement the best apps for any growing business and build a long lasting relationship with your client. 

Introduction

For any modern business the Cloud has opened up all sorts of possibilities.

Cloud technology has given us the real potential to accelerate growth on a scale not seen before. Yet, moving to new apps and new software isn’t always as easy as it looks. It can be hard, complicated to organise and easy to get wrong.

In fact the amount of things to consider can be a little overwhelming. Follow the steps to our easy App Advisor How to Guide however and you can get started today.

Scoping

This is our first tip and its pretty important…. Without agreeing a clear scope your client will expect more without wanting to pay any extra. 

So let’s go back to the very beginning with Scoping. This is essentially about understanding and sizing the problem.

It’s a vital part for any app advisor and important to get right. 

Why do we spend so much time Scoping? Well this is your chance to really get to know the client, their business and agree clear boundaries.

Of course the scope of any app advisory project may change but if you have defined it up front then that’s a different conversation to have with your client.

For example – do they want to increase the scope to cover a bigger problem or bigger part of the business? And if yes, are they prepared to pay you for the extra time? Alternatively you may need to know if they want to reduce the scope to save money and time.

If that’s the case you can make clear the impact on the final benefits.

We recommend that you get something in writing and agree early on that you can both review throughout the project.

Sounds simple right?

However even agreeing the scope takes effort. As an app advisor you really need to understand your client’s business from the get go. Start preparing for your discovery phase by doing some research.

Review the website, try and understand what they do, investigate their business model and how they deliver their services.  You could even send them a questionnaire to fill in.

This is a great way of beginning to understand their business pains and how you can make the biggest impact or improvement.

You can create a simple template easily or (and this is the first of two freebies!) try this one that our cloud software advisor clients use. It’s a great idea to get your client to start filling this out before your first discovery session.

If you like that template then hold onto your hat, you’re going to love the Business on a Page free template available below!

Discovery

Now you have a basic understanding of the client’s business and their problems, the Discovery stage is all about getting into the details.

Clients may describe a problem in a certain way but it’s your job as the App Advisor to get to the root of the problem so you can solve it. 

So how do you get the ball rolling? The best way is to start mapping their processes. Of course you may find that some companies already have process documentation of some sort, this is helpful, but we recommend starting afresh. 

There are a number of reasons why. Firstly you need to understand these processes clearly – otherwise how will you be able to propose the best solution? This is the most crucial point.

In addition you need to make sure that the information provided is accurate and up to date, that nothing is missing and that your client understands where the issues are too. Finally mapping a process together is a great way to engage and build a relationship with a new client that will stand you in good stead for the rest of the project. 

To kick off this process mapping exercise, start by running a “Business on a Page” activity with your client. The Business on a Page template will list all the key activities a business does on one page.

As an app advisor this will help you to clarify which parts of the business touch on the processes you’re interested in.

Why is this key?

Let’s look at an example; imagine as an app advisor you are focusing on the accounting automation possibilities. You need to recognise that the flow of money through the business doesn’t only sit within Finance processes. Money also comes from Sales, or Service Delivery, and you need to account for expenses too.

Using the Business on a Page means that you can frame that conversation with a client. Then you can agree and understand who in the business needs to be involved in the Discovery sessions. 

Once you have agreed which processes need mapping you can get on with it.

We recommend a simple approach, you can use Skore to make this easy and recordable or you can use our approach on a whiteboard or even a paper and pen, then write it up later. Check out our process mapping guide here for more information.

As you map each process be sure to capture any problems the team describe and any ideas they express. This is vital information. We recommend that app advisors map what the business does today and record how the team would like it to work  in the future as notes.

This enables you to start quantifying the problems they have today and how any new solution will solve those in future. Make sure you think about how you will record this information – either through sticky notes or a software like Skore. 

Discovery sessions vary in length depending on how big the project is… i.e. the scope. The first session should be scheduled for between 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Set the expectation that you may need more time after this but typically you will know by the end of the session.

Keep a checklist and document if there any areas you are not clear about. You may need more information about them before moving on to a solution.

Many Cloud Software Advisors and Consultants will charge a fixed fee for the first discovery session and prepare a short report from this. Sometimes that’s enough to continue with the project.

Now at least, you will understand the scope and can agree that with the client before doing any more work.

Design

As you have gathered the information you should be able to start sketching out a draft design for the solution. It may be that you have already seen activities that the client does that can be automated, or where they are prone to mistakes or duplication.

As an App Advisor this is really your chance to show what extra value you can bring to the client.

Start by making a new version of these processes and experiment with different designs. This is the time to think about how these processes should really work, and your recommendations.

If you do think there are radical changes that could improve the client’s business then why not share them? It may be that they hadn’t considered that option before and it could make a tangible difference. 

Once you have created these designs you can put together a list of requirements and criteria to help you select the right apps. When completed, its time to start your research!

Need to know how to gather software requirements remotely? Read our blog here for some tips

Research and Selection

Start your research by reviewing App websites. Consider what features they offer and check if this matches with your criteria.

Make sure you make a note of it all. You could even create a scoreboard if you have time and give points for every criteria fulfilled. This should help you focus on the high scoring apps. It also means you won’t need to take trials and demos of everything. Take a look at what comparison websites can assist with your search.

We recommend App Advisory Plus for anyone working with Xero as a great place to start. 

With a shortlist of apps you can contact vendors to find out how closely they match the criteria. Share the processes and criteria with them.

Most app vendors don’t want to waste your time, nor their own time on a potential client that’s not a good fit for them. They will tell you pretty quickly whether they can meet the criteria or not and if not, how far short they fall. This is where your accurate and clearly mapped processes will come into their own!

You may want to arrange demonstrations for your client based on their processes. This will make it much easier for them to make a decision. Remember you might be making recommendations but it’s up to the client to decide which app to use.

Configuration and testing

With the apps selected you can move into configuration, or use an App Integrator to do this for you. Either way your processes will prove invaluable as reference material for how the app needs to work.

Next you should run tests with actual users of the apps. Make sure to brief them on the processes first, especially if they have changed.

Keep in mind that some users might not even know why they do something in the business. They’ve just always done it a certain way before without question. Your processes should explain why they do it and therefore why they have to do it differently now.

Test the new apps against the process and ensure they do what they are expected to do. Ensure the participants agree that things work as expected. You should also involve the main client representative in this stage and get them to sign off the tests before moving to the next step.

Implementation and training

So here we are, the big day has arrived and the client is going to switch over to their shiny new solution. Any app advisor should make sure all users have been trained on the process and are clear what they need to do. It is of great benefit if the users have access to the processes as training material. 

Be prepared to have some teething problems within the first few days, its totally normal.

In fact we’d recommend that App Advisors make some time to be available to support the client through these first few days. Agree with the client beforehand that you will be at the end of the phone, or even on site, for a given period until they are up and running.

Many App Advisors offer a chargeable ongoing support package on an annual basis or for a fixed term. This gives the client confidence that issues will be dealt with quickly and most will be happy to pay for that privilege!

Let’s not forget about Change Management

Lastly, but certainly not least, is Change Management. In our opinion this and the initial Discovery step are the most important topics in this guide.

Let us explain why, when you introduce a new app, or combination of apps, to a business it’s not just the software that changes. To get the real benefits from these new apps you need to get the people in the business to use them and to use them properly.

That means these people will need to change the way they work.

Training should be put in place to help people understand what the new ways of working are. However you also need to consider what motivates people to behave the way they do. People get used to the way they do things and can easily fall back to what they know if they don’t understand, or fear, a new change. This is especially easy if the old way of doing things was in a spreadsheet, or similar document.

If they hit a problem in the new app you’ve introduced then what’s to stop them falling back to their old safe spreadsheets?

This is why Change Management is so important. Change Management is about taking people along a journey. It ensures they understand the need for change and the benefits it brings.

It also warns them of the potential challenges they will face and what you’re doing to help them through. Any successful App Advisory business will need to consider this thoroughly.

Our future article about Change Management will be available soon but for now remember that any new apps you introduce will not work if you can’t convince the users to use them! It’s key to winning the hearts and minds of any client or users and well worth taking the time to consider.

Great Opportunities for App Advisors

The rapid rise and expansion of cloud technologies means every business needs to be thinking about how they can take full advantage of new ways of working and keeping up with the competition.

For App Advisors and Consultants there are ample opportunities to advise and help organisations reach their goals. A word of caution from us however, always remember that App Advisory is not just about new technology. Focus too much on the technology and not enough on the steps mentioned in this How To guide and you may just find that you’ve provided a solution that no one uses or really needs. 

Craig Willis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Skore, the Process Mapping and Improvement Software. With over 15 years of experience in Consultancy and Change Management, he’s on a mission to make sure that every business, large or small, has access to the tools needed to grow and improve their business.

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.

Start Your Free Trial of Skore

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.