Historian or Visionary… Which are you?

Anyone who has ever bought their own home can testify that it can be exciting, often frustrating, more than a little scary but, ultimately, immensely satisfying. Of course, that assumes everything goes according to plan. In simple terms, it’s something of an emotional rollercoaster.

The Retail sector is raising customer expectations of Housebuilders

If you’re in the business of selling new homes, you will be acutely aware of how changes in consumer expectations within the retail sector, are now reflected in the expectations of homebuyers. Consumers are no longer willing to ‘hope’ for a good experience, it is expected – whether the purchase is a mobile phone or a new build home. And if we don’t get it, there are plenty of communication channels, such as social media, where our displeasure with your brand can, and will, be amplified many times over!

When you consider these facts, it amazes me that sales teams still rely on backward looking metrics to measure their success, or lack thereof. By that, I mean focusing on things that have already happened, or gone wrong!

Number of completions, revenue and profit are all important measures, but they can only be measured AFTER the event.

At the other end of the sales process is the opportunity pipeline. The part where potential buyers that have shown a real interest and ‘qualify’ as your company’s definition of an opportunity. Some of those will drop out and some you’ll win. There’s probably a percentage calculation based on historical sales data that is used to set your sales targets.

Reflect on the past but FIX the future

What neither of these actually do, is measure anything which might predict if something is about to go wrong during the sales cycle. The first indication is typically when the buyer raises an objection, or it becomes clear the build won’t be delivered on time. You are now in a position where the damage has been done, it’s too late to mitigate the issue and your only option is to try and appease your buyer.

Revolutionise your processes to transform your customer experience

So how can you move from Historian to Visionary and identify measures that will tell you when something might go wrong before it does? How can your organisation sense and respond to potential issues, address them early and provide a better customer experience throughout the process?

The build process is complex and, typically, out of control of the sales team. However, having an integrated, end-to-end view of the whole process allows everyone, including your sales team, to see the key stages along the way. The Skore approach enables your organisation to build such an integrated model in a way that is easy for everyone to follow and understand.

By bringing different, but related teams together, the Skore approach clarifies who does what, and when key handovers of responsibility occur. The whole process becomes transparent and teams can identify points of critical, mutual communication. These are the points where potential issues in the build process should be communicated to the sales team early enough for them to do something about it, before the customer experience fails.

Measure what matters

Another unique feature of the Skore approach is in the way it makes you focus on the value added by each step of a process. These are the steps which often make great performance measurement points as they occur throughout the process, not just at the end.

Identifying and measuring indicators of success throughout the process means that you look to the future outcomes much sooner.

Using this approach, when certain parts of the process aren’t delivering as expected, these measures will act as an early warning of a potential problem that can be investigated and resolved and gives the sales team a heads up to communicate with the customer and manage their expectations.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can use Skore to build a sense and respond organisation and deliver a better customer experience, get in touch.

Are communications with Head Office causing problems for your business?

Have you ever heard someone say, “We know this doesn’t work well for us / our customers but Head Office make the rules and don’t listen to us”?

For example, in a shop where the stock levels are inconsistent. Or by a service provider where the member of staff isn’t empowered to make the changes that would improve customer experiences? How do you resolve a problem like a breakdown in communication between head office and remote sites?

In fact, communication breakdowns aren’t restricted to multi-site businesses. The problem can just as easily happen between teams on the same site. Or between the business and its suppliers and/or customers.

In our line of work, we hear this problem cited all too often. It’s especially common in multi-site businesses where teams simply don’t get the chance to interact on a day-to-day basis. However, it’s also a frequent factor in other businesses too, companies that are growing rapidly, where each team is focused on a specific objective or companies that haven’t changed in a long time even though the environment around them has.

When communication breaks down, or is perceived to have broken down, the result is a duplication of effort, rework, mistakes and a general lack of trust. All in all, not a recipe for a high performing business.

Before you jump ahead and start looking at which of the many available solutions you are going to use to improve collaboration, and therefore communication, STOP!

It is critical that you understand the root cause of the problem first. Once you have done this, the solution may be far simpler, and therefore less expensive to implement, than it initially appears.

A recent project saw the Skore team working with a client where two teams were doing the work that really belonged to one. Team A was the rightful owner of the work yet nearly 50% of it was being done by Team B.

Team B weren’t properly trained in the task and didn’t really have the time to do it. When things went wrong, Team A often got the blame. On top of that, many individual tasks were, unwittingly, being duplicated by both teams.

By the time we were engaged to help, trust was at a dangerously low level between the two teams and was adversely impacting their effectiveness. We started by mapping out the end to end work that both teams were doing. By using a simple approach, that enabled everyone to take part, the teams described the key activities, who owned them and the value each activity brought to the process.

These sessions were immensely powerful in stripping out any emotion attached to the inter-team relationships and allowed everyone to describe the work as it should be done. As we mapped out the steps and interactions, ownership was clarified as was, more importantly, the key interfaces and what was expected of each team.

It turned out that a member of Team A had moved to Team B over three years before. During a busy period, that employee was asked to lend their experience, temporarily, to Team A. However, that situation went on much longer than expected. When the employee eventually moved on to other things, they trained their replacement and included the additional work ‘temporarily’ being done on behalf of Team A.

Over time Team B had absorbed this work without question. Team B thought they were doing it because Team A weren’t capable. Team A thought Team B were deliberately taking their work because they didn’t trust Team A to do it properly!

The client had engaged us to help them capture requirements for an upgrade to one of their systems. A change that would alter the way aspects of their business processes worked. During the workshop we captured the necessary requirements, realigned the teams’ processes, roles and responsibilities and, as a result, dramatically improved trust and communication.

Using the Skore approach it is common to identify hidden problems in a business. And once a problem is identified you’re halfway to a solution. But when people are unable to articulate the problem, can’t see the root cause clearly, or aren’t empowered to challenge, problems will often be put down to communication and trust issues. In turn this can lead to accusations of poor workmanship when in fact it’s simply a broken process.

Don’t let a lack of trust or good communication damage your business.

Contact the team today and arrange a FREE, no obligation call to find out how the Skore approach can ensure trust, teamwork and communication is alive and well within your business.

Asking WHY can save your business a fortune!

As a consultant, one of the most powerful questions in my ‘toolbox’ is “why”?

Why do you do that? What’s the value?

It forces you to think beyond the superficial and dig into the real meaning of a piece of work. To understand what it ultimately adds to your business or customer.

It’s easy for me, to turn up at a new client’s premises and ask those questions. But why don’t businesses ask it enough of themselves?

What do you do to ensure you constantly challenge yourself and every person in your organisation, to consider the value in all that they do?

Asking ‘WHY’ is a great example of how the Skore approach consistently helps businesses using it, stay at the top of their game. It challenges team members at all levels within a business, to think about what they do and why. To always challenge the status quo and ask;

  • What value is this process adding to the customer?
  • How does each step contribute to that value?

When I am training clients teams on using the Skore approach, I often find the following anecdote highlights the importance of asking WHY.

Several years ago, I was working with a large construction and services company helping them define a standard process for a back-office function. A mundane but necessary step in their wider improvement programme.

In one session we started by capturing all the key steps in the process. These were displayed, in the order that they happened, on the screen for everyone to see. The room was full of heads nodding in agreement. A great start!

I then started to walk the team through each step, asking “why does this step happen?” or “what value does this step bring?”. As we moved through the steps it generated some great discussion and opened up a whole bunch of improvement ideas for the future. Ideas I duly captured and shared with the client team later.

Eventually we arrived at this innocuous step “produce weekly reports”. Again, I asked the question, “why do we do this?”. The team turned to look at the person who had described the step. “So that the weekly reports are produced?” was the response.

Hearing the past tense used to describe why something is done often rings alarm bells to me as it usually suggests that there’s little, or worse, no value in the activity. It’s hard to articulate, and isn’t always the case, but is a pretty good indicator that we need to try a little harder to uncover the value. I tried again, this time “OK, what do you do with the report once you’ve produced it?”

“Print it out and file it in the cabinet at the end of the office” came the reply. At this point the colleagues all looked at each other. My next question, “does anyone use that report?” was met with a sea of blank faces.

After investigation it transpired that this person was spending three hours every week producing these reports. The reports were filed away and never looked at. What’s more, we found no compliance reason for them to exist.

It turns out that when the colleague had joined the organisation 18 months before, their predecessor had included this activity as part of their job handover.

In that time over 210 hours had been wasted and if we hadn’t caught it, many more would have followed!

Through the application of the Skore approach, the identification of these types, and levels, of waste are commonplace.

Traditional methods of process improvement require a high level of discipline to apply it correctly, or alternatively, for a consultant to come in and do it. The more commonly used approaches to capturing and visualising ways of working don’t generally ask “why” at each step and therefore improvement opportunities, such as those described above, are easily missed.

It is for this reason that we built the “why” questions directly into the Skore platform.

When Skore is used to define and describe work processes it routinely asks;

  • What happens?
  • Who does it? and
  • Why?

If the questions are not answered, they remain visible until the are completed, acting as a reminder to investigate and understand them fully at some later point during the process.

Want to learn more about Skore? Request a Demo today!

Don’t let hidden costs damage your profits

When a business is embarking on a project, that will fundamentally change the way the organisation works, there are a number of steps to go through in order to properly identify the business aspirations and to understand exactly how change will impact the business. But these projects don’t tend to focus on finding hidden costs.

Typically, when the Skore team are called in to support this type of transformation project, our client will already have a specific goal, such as implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application.

As a client you will have acknowledged that you have recurring problems, often including; the duplication of effort, repeatedly making the same mistakes, or simply not being able to keep on top of things with your existing working practices. But what other hidden costs might be lurking in the business?

Perhaps the system being implemented promises a new feature that will allow you to exploit a new process – for example, a client recently benefited from the introduction of an online chat widget, meaning that customers were able to interact directly with the support staff through the website.

In 2017, we published this article How we saved 80 days of waste during a system implementation. This project saw our client, a tier 1 engineering company, implementing a training administration system to manage the multitude of internal and external training courses they offer.

With well defined goals for the system implementation, Skore was selected for gathering the requirements. During the early project stages of the initial requirements workshops, we quickly identified the aforementioned extra 80 days of hidden cost!

Using that article as the catalyst, we decided to review other projects we’ve been involved in and see what additional benefits we helped our clients achieve.

Another client engaged Skore to support the definition of business processes in preparation for the implementation of a new order processing system. During the definition phase, we once again identified a number of improvement opportunities outside the scope of the core project, including time savings in the processes for ordering, stock management and returns.

The Skore approach also helped the team identify areas where data duplication was taking place. By addressing these instances, further time efficiencies were achieved through the reduction of duplicated effort and rework.

In our third example, the project looked at the clients’ product development process. A key factor in using the Skore approach is the detailed understanding of the interactions between all interfacing processes, people and technology. It was within these interfaces our client identified additional pain points that were adversely impacting their customer experience. The additional value added by Skore was being able to assist with resolving these problems outside of the core project.

This is just a small sample of our projects. However, our ongoing review process found one common theme – that additional benefits are consistently being identified outside of the defined scope of our projects.

What is most surprising, is that in virtually all cases, these unexpected benefits represent a significant cost saving to the client despite never having previously been identified. In fact, the teams were often not even aware they had a problem until the Skore approach was applied.

This is why the use of Skore tends to grow within organisations. After its initial introduction as a tool to support the delivery of a specific project, its value in identifying additional, or unexpected, benefits soon becomes clear. Skore can easily be applied to other parts of the business in order to optimise working practices, reduce costs, identify new opportunities and, in turn, increase profits.

To find out more about how Skore is helping organisations transform their performance and customer satisfaction, take a look at our case studies.

Or, to discuss how Skore could be applied to your own business, leave your details for one of our transformation specialists to arrange a call.

10 Steps to the Perfect Process

I’m often asked how much of what we do is down to the software and how much is down to our experience. It’s a hard question to answer. I’ve been doing this work for a long time and I’m always learning new things. Undoubtedly I see things that less experienced people might not but I had to start somewhere.

I’ve always found simple structures and approaches to be the most effective. The most effective for getting started, guiding you, learning from and building experience. That’s why we built Skore based on a simple, yet powerfully flexible, framework for describing processes, people, systems and data.

Skore has the framework built in to it, it makes it quick and easy to apply. But there is still an approach that underpins the application of the framework. After hundreds of training sessions I’ve put together the following 10 simple steps to creating the perfect process.

Do I follow these perfectly every time? No, but if you do follow them, along with Skore, you will create good quality and insightful process models of your organisation in 10 simple steps.

10 Steps to the Perfect Process

1. SCOPE
What is the scope for this process? Capture the Title, initial input and final output

2. ACTIVITIES
What is the work to be done? Verb and Noun, no need to worry about sequence

3. OUTPUTS
For each activity, add the output, trying to avoid just putting the past tense of the activity

4. FLOW
Only once all the activities have an output, hook them up. What does this output trigger next? This checks you’ve got the right activities

5. WHO
A process is not complete until the ‘Who does it?’ is filled in for EVERY activity. For higher levels, who is responsible? For lower levels, who does it?

6. ENRICH
Add in things like systems, data, document links, requirements, etc… depending on the reason you’re process mapping

7. TIDY
Align the tops, space apart… a neat process is a happy process

8. SHARE
Don’t keep the process to yourself, make sure the access rights are set up correctly and share the link to a wider audience. Switch on Comments if you want feedback directly through Skore

9. REFINE
Take the feedback and improve the process

10. PUBLISH
Decide who should approve the process (usually the Process Owner!) and Publish. Remember, this is just a line in the sand, it will change and need to be re-published. You can always roll back to an earlier version if needs be.

Download 10 Steps to a Perfect Process as a PDF.

The Magic of Hierarchy

The importance of hierarchy

Probably my favourite tool in the arsenal of analyst techniques has to be decomposition. Whether it’s functional or process decomposition there is nothing like it for arranging problems into the big picture. Then breaking that picture down into its component parts so that you can start to make sense of it.

And yet hierarchy, in recent years, has got a pretty bad reputation. As Stanford professor Bob Sutton wrote this weekend in this LinkedIn article. He was brought up to believe that hierarchy was bad and led to inefficiency, yet research for his new book showed that hierarchy is unavoidable.

Hierarchy is nature’s gift to us in helping us understand the World around us. Citing research by his colleagues Deb Gruenfeld and Lara Tiedens he describes how hierarchy is found in every single group of animals found in nature. To quote Gruenfeld and Tiedens directly:

“When scholars attempt to find an organization that is not characterized by hierarchy, they cannot.”

Hierarchy structures the relationships between people and things into parent, child and peer relationships. This makes it easier for us to remember those relationships, it provides an organising principle that is standardised across everything. We simply have to know how hierarchy works in order to understand something that is new to us.

This is what makes decomposition so powerful. It comes naturally to us human beings so is not really something that needs much in the way of education. When we apply it, it’s often to an area that seems chaotic and complex. By decomposing we overlay a hierarchy that allows us to understand what was previously incomprehensible. It allows us to break problems down into component parts in order to tackle them effectively and even start to predict what will happen when we make changes.

It doesn’t just aid understanding, it also helps us to remember. Instead of having to remember every single discreet component of an organisation you simply need to remember a small subset. You can then use this along with the hierarchical organising principle and you will be able to fairly accurately calculate the missing pieces.

Skore and decomposition

This is what makes decomposition one of the first things I do when introduced to a new problem and this is why we made decomposition one of the central parts of Skore. It surprises me how few products there are out there that help you do this easily, one of our favourites is Workflowy.

Right from the beginning we wanted to give people the ability to decompose as thought it was second nature. With Skore you simply capture a few high level actions that describe the ‘big picture’ then use the details button on each What Box to decompose to the next level creating a hierarchy as you go. This means it is really important that you complete the Why Box for each step. The Why Box is used to determine the outcome of each step, what’s expected once the action is complete. By doing this consistently you are setting your scope for the next level of detail and making it easier to focus on that detail.

Detail button on a What Box in Skore

When looking at any new problem Skore is one of the first tools I reach for, sketch out the big picture and then explore the details of any relevant parts.

3 things to remember

Hierarchy is all around us – it is an organising principle built into nature and helps us understand otherwise complex situations.

Use decomposition to organise and understand problems – start at the ‘big picture’ and break it down into component parts in order to understand what it is and what to do next.

Use the Details button in Skore to decompose a step – each What Box has a details button, clicking this will give you a clean canvas with the context of the parent step including the descriptions of the What and Why boxes. You can break individual steps into detail views as often as you need until you reach the right level of detail.

This is an extended version of an article from Human Automation.

Bringing RACI into the 21st Century

In this presentation we look at some of the problems with RACI and explore visual RACI modelling with Skore app. A text description follows the presentation.

People are looking for an alternative

Over the past 12 months we’ve seen a lot of search traffic arrive on our blog looking for alternatives to RACI. In fact our blog post “Forget RACI – RATSI makes things clearer” is the second most popular page on our website.

A quick search on Google throws up a lot of articles trying to explain how to use RACI. Clearly something isn’t working.

What is RACI?

RACI is a tool for helping teams clarify roles and responsibilities, or rather, who does what around here! RACI stands for:

  • Responsible – the person responsible for doing the work
  • Accountable – the person ultimately accountable for the delivery of the work
  • Consult – A person that needs to be consulted during the work
  • Inform – A person that needs to know about the work

It’s typically used in a matrix form with roles along the top which can be cross referenced against activities down the side.

There are many alternatives

The concept behind RACI is sound, the idea that it should provide clarity around who does what in a project or process. However there are many different variations on the theme such as:

  • ARCI
  • RASI
  • RACIQ
  • RACIO
  • RATSI (our favourite)
  • RAPID
  • RACSI
  • DACI
  • CLAM

Each of these appear to be attempts to clarify and improve the definitions of each component. Some have a different focus such as on decision making or outcomes.

The problem with RACI

One of the biggest criticisms of RACI is the ambiguity in meaning between the different components. For example the difference between the meaning of Responsible and Accountable.

At a recent Skrum meetup we asked the audience to explain the difference. Even among this experienced group of change practitioners we found opposing meanings for these two definitions.

Another criticism of RACI is the lack of detail around the activities and the level of involvement expected from the different roles. Of course getting the level of detail right is difficult, too detailed and you don’t allow flexibility for the team to make their own decisions. Not enough detail and you leave too much open to interpretation and therefore don’t solve the problem of clarity and who is responsible for what.

As well as a lack of detail RACI doesn’t describe outcomes, it tends to focus only on activity. Including outcomes can provide more clarity around the work required and further clarity on the difference between the person doing the work and the person owning the outcome or deliverable.

Finally, a major problem with RACI, and it’s siblings, is that the resultant documentation (typically a matrix in a spreadsheet) is just too big and complex to be really useful to those that need it.

Introducing visual RACI modelling

Over the past 5 years we’ve been practising a form or responsibility modelling based on our process framework approach. This combines the definition of activities, outcomes and roles into a single picture.

This means, as a user, I can quickly and easily see the work required, how it flows, the outcomes expected at each step and the responsibility level. All at a glance.

With our framework it’s very easy to take each of those activities and break them down into more detail as required. So you can really get into the details if you need to.

When you reach the lowest level of detail required you can add as many roles as you need to each activity. You can choose to show these on the diagram or you can hide them in the responsibilities panel to keep the diagram clean and simple.

This information is available to any user that needs to see it and is easily searchable by any user with the correct access rights.

RACI reporting and analysis

Defining your activities, roles and responsibilities in a clear and visual way is an excellent way to get clarity among the team. Not just when you first gather the information but also as an ongoing asset, or reference tool, for the team in the future too.

Using Skore to capture this information not only makes it easy it also instantly provides additional insights you simply wouldn’t see if you were using a spreadsheet.

With the click of a button you can view a tabular report showing the activities, roles and their RACI assignment.

Using this data you can quickly create graphs that highlight patterns and help you focus your analysis and improvement activities.

Finally Skore provides instant job descriptions based on your RACI modelling. Clicking on the name of a role will show all the activities of that role and their RACI assignments. Ideal for exporting into job descriptions.

If you would like to learn more about using Skore for RACI modelling please do get in touch info@getskore.com.

Whiteboard versus software

This is a question that comes up from time to time when introducing Skore to new teams, “is it better to run workshops using whiteboards or software tools?”  I’d argue that it’s not a question of one versus the other, they each have their strengths, the question should really be “when should I use a whiteboard and when should I rely on technology?”

What is a workshop?

A workshop is a very powerful collaboration and innovation tool. It normally involves a group of stakeholders with different areas of experience and expertise. It takes place in an open space where  the team have room to move around and interact. It is typically facilitated by someone that helps guide the team toward reaching a desired outcome.

Workshops are used to understand problems, identify solutions and allow the key stakeholders to provide their input. The purpose of the whiteboard, or a software tool, is to help visualise the ideas under discussion and to explore them in more detail.

So how do I know what to use?

I’ve found that it depends on the stage the team is at in terms of their understanding of the issues. In the early stages of a project there’s a lot to figure out and everyone has a different point of view. This is the blank page phase where you have to get thoughts aligned. Using a whiteboard here is perfect. Thoughts are very unstructured and the freeform nature of a whiteboard allows the team to get all these thoughts visible. Once you have achieved this you will start to see relationships between the ideas and it’s this point where things start to become more concrete. (see Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin for guidance on how to visualise ideas)

This phase is where I would start to look at using a software tool. You’re starting to dig into the details, and the devil is often in the detail. At this stage the expertise of the participants really comes to the fore and conversations can be very quick and passionate. It’s important to keep these energy levels and concentration high to be most effective. The problem with manual driven workshops is that ideas come thick and fast, they get clarified and changed very quickly. It’s difficult to keep up with the flow and stopping and waiting for the facilitator to update a sticky note can sometimes be enough to distract the participants.

By the same token the software tool itself needs to be visual and quick, this is not always the case. Whether wireframing, or producing flows, a quick and easy tool is required to get the best out of the workshop. And if you can get the content directly into the tool then there’s no need to follow up later putting the content into the tool based on some poor photo you took with your tablet.

Having said all that, when I’m using a tool projected on to the wall I always have a whiteboard or flipchart available to capture additional ideas.

The bottom line is that workshops are incredibly powerful ways to collaborate and engage with different stakeholders but it’s important to use the right tool at the right time so that you can get the most value from the experience. As a rule of thumb I’d start with the whiteboard in a very early stage, as soon as ideas start to firm up and the nature of the challenge is understood then it’s probably time to switch to a laptop and projector.

We’ve designed Skore with this very much in mind. We’ve used many tools over the years, some are better than others in a live workshop environment, but they mostly rely on experienced users to get the most out of them. We wanted to create something that anyone could pickup and use to capture flows and user journeys with very little practice. 

Skore versus MS Visio, Lucidchart and Gliffy

For the purposes of this article we will consider Lucidchart, MS Visio and Gliffy to be general purpose diagramming tools. Given its ubiquity we will refer mainly to MS Visio for the examples.

How is Skore different to Visio?

This is the most common question we come across when introducing Skore to new audiences, especially analysts and consultant. We use Visio to create flowcharts and we create flowcharts in Skore so how are they really that different?

It would be easy, but rather boring, to try and explain the difference feature by feature.

Instead I would describe Skore as a strategic tool that helps organisations better understand themselves and therefore better able to improve and change. Whereas Visio is very much a tactical general purpose diagramming tool. I can design a business process flowchart in Visio, and I can design my new kitchen.

Process – a strategic view

For decades business leaders have considered their organisation’s processes as strategic assets. Processes flow through organisations, transforming inputs from suppliers into value for customers. They are the reason businesses function. And yet, after all this time, executives continue to struggle with problems of efficiency, standardisation, quality, risk and effectiveness.

When taking a process view of an organisation it’s easy to see where the problems are. Bottlenecks and breakdowns happen most often where the process moves from one team to another, from one department from another, or from one person to another.

Inefficiencies and errors thrive where different people deliver the same piece of work in different ways. Or design new work every time they do the same thing.

As an organisational improvement tool process flowcharts are used to show us, and help us fix, these problems.

So why do these problems keep coming back? Why do so many leaders still consider process and process efficiencies as a strategic priority? Why have we not solved this once and for all

Process – a tactical view

At a recent client the chief executive complained that he couldn’t understand why people still kept making the same mistakes despite his efforts to make the whole organisation more process focused. This reflects the fact that in most organisations ‘business’ processes are confused with flowcharts.

Flowcharts are fantastic tools for visualising flows of activities or data. They say a picture paints a thousand words and a flowchart allows you to layout complex sequences of activities that may be sequential or parallel or both. Something a text document does very poorly.

So can you draw a ‘business’ process using a flowchart? Absolutely, however it’s not so easy to create true business processes, at least not as easy as it is to draw any old boxes and lines. Something many people confuse with business processes.

In practice flowcharts are created for many reasons, as very low level task instructions, decision trees, or for implementing specific parts of a system. When created in Visio they are flat 2 dimensional diagrams with the only guidelines and rules based on the experience of the user.

Or they are created on whiteboards, they are large, complex and with varying levels of detail all displayed in one noodle soup of a flowchart.

The problem with thinking of process as a strategic asset

The problem is that processes exist at many levels of an organisation. There are the big strategic chunks of work that describe the core value chain. Or there are the management routines required to ensure work is optimised and continuously improved.

There are the key activities that describe what the organisation, team or department needs to do. And there is the implementation level of work such as tasks or requirements for systems.

These different levels of process are still often drawn in Visio but they require considerable expertise, skill and experience to create and manage them. In fact, in most cases, the same expertise is needed just to explain them and how they fit together.

This expertise takes years to develop and individuals that fit this bill are rare and sought after. They are most likely to be interim roles or expensive consultants. Organisations bring them in for specific projects and programmes.

This type of skill rarely gets embedded into an organisation and once the consultants leave their ability to update and maintain a true process view of the organisation goes with them. The organisation gradually reverts back to type.

A further problem, and one that any good process consultant will be perfectly aware of, is that processes do no exist in isolation. A process doesn’t work without people to do it, nor does it work without the inputs and resources that are to be transformed. Again, without the systems, rules, machines and equipment that make it work, a process is nothing but an idea.

To really understand an organisation’s strategic processes it is essential to have a good understanding of how all these interlocking pieces form the complete picture. Our experienced consultants have created a myriad of tools to assist them but it generally boils down to flowcharts and spreadsheets.

Spreadsheet upon spreadsheet of data all related to specific parts of our process. Creating this monster requires a PhD in astrophysics and an army of analysts to create and keep in synch. No one understands how it hangs together expect the original artist that created it. And although they can answer any question using this resource, it appears as a clouded crystal ball to virtually everyone else.

How Skore solves this issue

What we’ve just described is a status quo that has existed for many years. Visio, Lucidchart and similar tools have simply created an electronic version of brown paper and string, or it’s more modern equivalent, whiteboards and sticky notes.

It doesn’t bring a fundamental change in thinking. It doesn’t address the issue of getting an organisation to recognise, articulate and love it’s processes in an ongoing and strategic fashion.

Skore is different first in its approach and secondly how that is applied in the tool. Skore is designed to make it easy for more people in an organisation to learn how to capture and describe processes.

And when I use the term ‘process’ I mean multi-level flowcharts that include all the other things an organisation needs to function. Not just the work activities, nor even the people, but all the systems and other information required.

All this information is stored in a single model, not multiple flowcharts and multiple spreadsheets that need to be kept in synch manually, but a dynamic model that includes all the information linked together.

This is also not some technical architectural tool. Skore follows some very simple rules that makes it very easy to understand and use. It’s not for everyone and while everyone can create boxes and lines in Visio, a significantly larger portion of your organisation will be able to develop good quality processes in Skore.

A model in Skore can start at the top of the organisation showing our strategic buckets of work and, clicking a button, you can zoom into any level of detail you wish.

It becomes a true strategic view of an organisation’s processes where the CEO is looking at the same model as everyone else.

Contact us to try Skore today.

How we saved 80 days waste during a system implementation project

Mapping a process is an essential step at the beginning of a system implementation project. It ensures the right requirements are identified and delivered to the users and should drive the right business outcomes.

But what else can you expect to get from this exercise? What are the additional benefits that can be derived from taking the time to map the process early on in the project?

Recently we helped one of our partners identify and remove an additional 80 days of waste in a customer system implementation project. The business case had long been agreed, contracts signed and the project underway. And yet we were still able to identify further benefits for the end customer that may not have been recognised otherwise.

We work with system implementation partners in this way for two main reasons. For a successful system implementation you first need to provide a solution that adds value to the customer. A solution that really makes a difference to their business, otherwise their return on the investment is nil. Secondly, you need to help the customer adopt the new solution, that means they need to move from their old ways of working (and often old habits) to new ways of working with the new solution.

Building the right solution

In the case above the system being implemented was based on a standard process. There was little change required to the core workflow. However, there was a significant amount of configuration required and not all parts of the application would be used. It was important to understand what was required, what wasn’t and why.

We ran a 2 hour process workshop with the core team of users and the business owner. There were 8 people in all and each would have a different level of interaction with the system. For example 3 members of the team would be using the system daily to track and communicate with their customers. In contrast the two managers would use the system mainly for reporting, roughly once a week.

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

As we mapped out the processes we also made a note of any challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis and additional requirements. In one example they identified a compliance requirement that had to be tracked. This was never part of the original business case but could be easily added to the system and was a significant improvement on their current ways of working.

Ideas, challenges and questions are captured as notes

Finally we made a note of how long each activity took and how often they did it each day. This was very interesting because during the workshop the durations ranged from 5 seconds to an hour per activity. Once these were multiplied up by the number of times each activity happened per day it was a significant amount of time.

system implementation
Duration and direct costs are captured against each activity

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

Next we looked at which activities would be automated by the new system. Based on the information gathered in the workshop it was here that we identified an additional 80 days of savings on top of what they had already agreed!

Delivering the right solution in the right way

Of course the real reason we were there in the first place, and supporting our partner, was to do something that all too often gets forgotten about in system implementations.

“How do you actually move the customer from where they are today to the new solution to ensure they adopt it successfully?”

This partner had previously complained about how customers would waste hours of training arguing about how stuff was done. When the system was implemented team members would complain it didn’t fit in with ‘how they did stuff’.

Our solution was to ensure the end customer was clear on their current ways of working BEFORE the implementation. This was achieved through the workshop described to understand the requirements. Everyone sat together and had their chance to dispute the process and amend it accordingly.

At the end of the workshop they all agreed on the process and it was shared with them online, in Skore app. In the days following the workshop they made a number of minor tweaks. Now they had a baseline that they all agreed on.

Moving to the new system was then a case of remapping the process according to the new solution. Then we identified the differences between the two processes and these became the focus of the training. At the beginning of the training the process was used to realign the team and demonstrate how things would change.

Supporting the solution

Once implemented and trained the processes were made available to the team for reference. Questions about how something worked could first be asked of the process before a call was made for support.

When a support call was made the support team would use the same process as the user to identify where the issue occurred and to explain the solution.

Skore app’s simple approach and process framework makes it possible for anyone to read and understand the process. The processes are delivered through an interactive online portal and users can leave feedback and improvement suggestions at any time.

This is how you effectively capture requirements, delight users, align the team and save 80 days of waste in your next project! And all of this was achieved in a single 2 hour workshop!

Contact us to learn more about how Skore app can accelerate your next system implementation.