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.

Affected by WannaCry? It’s time to perform an IT process review!

perform a process review to help prevent future attacksThe WannaCry attack, in the last week, has apparently taken many companies and computer users by surprise. The scale of the attack appears to be unprecedented with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) particularly affected.

That attack, which uses an exploit in the Microsoft Windows platform, claims to encrypt your files before demanding a payment to recover them. Microsoft issued a patch to the latest versions of the Windows operating system in March 2017.

However it appears many users were left vulnerable after systems had not been updated in over a month. Microsoft believe that a majority of home users will be protected as they generally have automatic updates and will have been protected.

So how did many of these organisations get hit by such an attack when there was already a patch available?

What went wrong?

It’s clear that a lot of organisations had either not yet installed the patch, had not considered it important enough, or worse, they simply missed it. Another reason is that they are using outdated and unsupported versions of Windows. While this is perhaps more common that many people realise it doesn’t always cause issues of this nature.

Many IT teams will carry out regular risk assessments of their hardware and infrastructure. Unsupported systems may be perfectly safe in the right environment.

Which ever of these reasons caused the attack to be successful in each organisation it’s probably time for those companies to review their processes to ensure the risk of similar attacks is minimised in future.

Review your IT processes

Using Skore app to map out processes and perform an IT process review will help identify and close gaps in existing processes. The simple approach makes it easy to for everyone in the team to have a say. Threats can come from anywhere and getting a broad view of how things work today will ensure that you cover as many angles as possible.

The Skore approach is based on a framework that helps you identify gaps in your process. This makes it particularly effective in this instance. It follows a set of simple questions which asks what happens, who does it and why. This may sound very simple but really challenges the team to ensure that every step in a process is there for the right reason.

In contrast other process tools do not force these questions to be answered. Invariably when teams find it hard to answer these questions they are skipped over. Unfortunately it is these very difficult to answer questions that highlight the inadequacies in a process. In this case Skore app has you covered.

Why not try Skore app today to review and evaluate your current IT processes.

Process mapping versus documentation

What is Process Mapping?

Early on in my career as a consultant I remember explaining my new role to my Brother. “Process Mapping?” he replied, “I’ve had that done to me!”

He worked in the finance industry and told me that someone in the compliance team had called him. “We’ll be mapping your processes over the next month.” He was told.

“Six weeks later I received another call to tell me it had all been mapped!”

While this is, perhaps, an extreme case it demonstrates the lack of engagement typically found in process mapping exercises. Why is this important?

A lack of engagement is a symptom that demonstrates a lack on understanding as to what process mapping actually is. The term process mapping is often used to describe to act of documenting a process. However, here we argue that process documentation is only ONE of the outputs of a process mapping exercise. So what is Process Mapping?

Documenting versus mapping

I think of documenting a process as simply capturing what’s in front of you. You’re just documenting what you see. This is typically what happens when processes are captured through one-to-one interviews. The interviewee is explaining what they do and the analyst captures it. It’s one dimensional.

Mapping a process is more like mapping the landscape. You can see what’s in front of you but you can’t see what’s behind that distant hill. You don’t know if there’s a village, or a lake behind it. Mapping requires you to take many different perspectives to build up a model that describes the landscape.

In the same way process mapping is as much about documenting what isn’t obvious, or clear, to each person involved.

It could be argued that running process interviews with different stakeholders will give these perspectives. The problem is that there is little opportunity to challenge different perspectives. It’s left to the analyst to interpret conflicting views without understanding why they happen.

Process workshops

It’s for this reason we recommend live process mapping workshop as the best way to map a process. Participants can describe how things work together. Differences can be discussed and the reasons for these differences ascertained.

Differences in how work gets done typically develops organically and leads to duplication and loss of standardisation. Sometimes these differences are completely valid. It is very difficult for the analyst to identify which is which without the necessary debate generated in a workshop.

Of course one or two workshops won’t completely map the process. An ongoing engagement with the team is required to ensure process maps are kept up to date and relevant.

Keeping the process relevant

A recent customer explained how they use process maps at their weekly team meetings. “We always open the process and have it displayed on the screen while we talk about the week ahead.” She explained. “We are in a heavily regulated industry and operate across more than 100 countries. We have to fit new regulations into our ways of working on a weekly basis.”

“The process maps help us stick to a common language when we discuss the impact of each new regulation. It speeds up the implementation and reduces misunderstanding. It keeps us all on the same page during constant change.”

Processes are rarely changed but the maps ensure the team focus on the relevant area and are aligned on what to do.

Saving time

A further advantage of the process workshop approach is the time it saves. While each person in the room still needs to be taken out of the business the analyst mapping the process only needs to be there once.

When interviewing the analyst spends time with each participant individually. Then they must analyse the output of each interview and understand the differences, often getting agreement through additional meetings later.

Using Skore app further speeds things up as, unlike using sticky notes and whiteboards, processes can be mapped directly into the tool and shared at the end of the workshop. Therefore there’s no need to spend time mapping the process into a tool afterwards.

Process mapping is more than simply documenting a process in front of you. It’s about understanding the different perspectives that make up how that processes is run in a given organisation. It’s about understanding what isn’t obvious and why it happens. A good process map will be accepted by the roles it describes and will be used to continuously improve.

Contact us to learn more about how Skore app accelerates and improves process mapping.

Project Lifecycle – accelerating change

Project LifecycleWhether you’re embarked on a major organisational change, designing a new business model, a new service offering or implementing a new system, having a solid project lifecycle methodology is essential. Delivering your project requires a strong team and a strong set of tools to support them.

For many people looking at Skore app, for the first time, they see a business process mapping, process analysis or a live process workshop tool. For many customers and partners it’s much more than that.

Skore app is used to support all the major phases of a change or transformation project lifecycle from discovery to sustain.

Here we describe how it supports each major phase of the project lifecycle and the benefits it brings.

Discovery

Early in a project, or even before it starts, it’s important to understand the current situation. This informs key decisions about what to implement and why.

This is about understanding what works well today and what could be improved. What are the gaps and how do we fill them.

Skore app is particularly good at rapidly capturing business processes either in live workshops or through one-to-one interviews. In fact it’s possible to import existing business processes from some other tools. Although we still recommend manually capturing existing process documentation as this gives you the opportunity to analyse it at the same time and helps identify those gaps.

Whether you’re implementing a new system or changing a business model you will need to analyse the information you gather in order to understand the requirements. Again the reporting features of Skore app help you extract this information and view it in a variety of ways and in different tools. For example you can check out how Skore app can work with Qlik Sense to analyse costing information here.

Design

Once you move into the design phase it’s important to engage the right people, the right subject matter experts. Design is about taking your objectives and designing the work the organisation needs to do in order to deliver those objectives.

Skore app is perfect for driving workshops with subject matter experts to capture this work.

Once the work has been defined you need to identify the roles and teams that will deliver it. Again, with its built in roles and responsibility modelling (RACI / RATSI) Skore app makes it easy to assign the work to different roles.

With these assignments you can then start to analyse how many people and what skills they need. Skore app can help you build your implementation plan by recording which new activities you will start with and how you prioritise the rest.

At this point in the project lifecycle you are ready to proceed to implementation.

Implementation

Having designed new ways of working in Skore app it is very easy to communicate these online. Teams can be trained directly from the system. Processes captured in Skore app can be quickly approved, published and shared with anyone in the organisation.

Team members can access the new ways of working from any device and through these they can access any supporting tools and documents. For example, a description of an activity in Skore app may also contain a detailed set of steps, as well as a link to the system needed to perform the activity.

This takes away the uncertainty normally experienced by teams undergoing change. Everything they need is provided in a single place. The Skore approach ensures they not only have the ways of working, it presents them in context so it helps answer key questions such as “why do we make this change”.

In any implementation it’s rare to find a design that works perfectly. What you need is a design that can be improved quickly as challenges arise. With Skore app, improvements to your ways of working can be made quickly and republished for users, all the while keeping a history of previous versions.

Sustain

Of course any change is not over at the end of the implementation phase. Any good project lifecycle will include sustain activities to ensure the changes remain in place long into the future.

Skore app supports sustain by being a living breathing representation of your ways of working. What’s more, users can engage in continuous improvement leaving comments and suggestions against the ways of working.

With all ways of working captured and regularly updated to reflect reality the next change project will be much easier.

Want to learn more about Skore app and our supporting tools to help deliver successful change projects? Contact us to find out more.

What can business analysts learn from Bear Grylls?

As a Business Analyst, or Project Manager, you often arrive on a new project and have no idea where to start. Things are a bit chaotic for a few weeks and then they gradually start to fall into place. You all figure out your roles, what needs to be done and the real work can begin.

This frustrates me, it’s wasted time, we should be able to start adding value straight away. I think… what would Bear Grylls do on his first day on this new project?

Dropped into the desert, or a high mountain peak, out in the wilderness. He has to get to civilisation and he has to survive using what he can carry and the environment around him. If he doesn’t figure this out quickly he’s got more to worry about than the failure of the project or the termination of his contract!

The first thing he has to do is assess the situation. This isn’t a random investigation but a structured approach that can be applied to a variety of environments so he can quickly start making important decisions.

He’ll look at the sky, where does the sun rise and set, roughly what time of day is it. He’ll look at the ground, are there signs of a water source, what way does the ground slope, are there visible peaks and so on.

Only then does he start to move toward his ultimate goal… civilisation.

A model for better business performance

Over the past few years I have been educated on, and adopted, an organizational performance model (OPM). This has really helped me make sense of a current situation and focus in on problem areas when I arrive on new projects.

This OPM is used by some of the world’s largest companies to understand business performance and improve results. The great thing about the model is its simplicity, but more importantly how it puts everything into context.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-15-38-35
The Organization Performance Model (OPM)

When assessing an existing organization, or process, we look at the relationships between each of these areas. You can start anywhere in the model and move clockwise around it to make your assessment. Although I prefer to start at Business Results as these are the results you are most likely trying to influence. Moving back from here you can start to ask why do we see the results we see.

Once your assessment is complete you can begin the design phase, working anti-clockwise around the model.

Business results

The business results, as mentioned above, is about looking at what results you get today. It’s important to understand these so you can measure how they change as a result of the project.

Culture

This describes the values, beliefs and the actual work that people do in the organisation. It’s this that drives the business results. It’s the reality of what people do every day.

Design Elements

The design elements are the structures, such as described processes or org charts, that should influence the business results. Understanding the relationship between this and culture is essential in changing the results. A perfectly designed process is useless if no one follows it.

Strategy

Design elements should be aligned with the strategy. This relationship is often broken as a result of a poorly defined ,or poorly understood, strategy.

Business Environment

The business environment includes factors often out of your control. It may include the market, the competition and the behaviours of consumers. Understanding the business environment is essential before defining an effective strategy.

A simple assessment of these five dimensions will help you focus on the key areas that need attention and the order in which you tackle them. Once you have the results of the assessment you can start working immediately.

If you would like to learn more about how we use the organization performance model (OPM) above please get in contact info@getskore.com.